49-2-512. Filing in district court -- compliance with administrative procedures required. (1) The provisions of this chapter establish the exclusive remedy for acts constituting an alleged violation of chapter 3 or this chapter, including acts that may otherwise also constitute a violation of the discrimination provisions of Article II, section 4, of the Montana constitution or 49-1-102. A claim or request for relief based upon the acts may not be entertained by a district court other than by the procedures specified in this chapter.
(a) the charging party fails to keep the department advised of changes of address and the department finds that the failure has impeded the administrative proceedings; or
(b) a period of 12 months has elapsed from the filing of a complaint and neither the department nor the commission has held a hearing pursuant to 49-2-505 or an informal hearing pursuant to 49-2-511. However, the department or the commission may refuse to dismiss a complaint under this subsection (2)(b) if:
(i) more than 30 days have elapsed since service of notice of hearing under 49-2-505;
(ii) the parties have stipulated to a reasonable extension of the timeframes; or
(iii) through litigation a party has unsuccessfully sought to prevent the department or the commission from conducting administrative proceedings on the complaint.
(3) Within 90 days after the department has issued a notice of dismissal pursuant to subsection (2), the charging party may commence a civil action for appropriate relief on the merits of the case in the district court in the district in which the alleged violation occurred. If the charging party fails to commence a civil action within 90 days after the dismissal has been issued, the claim is barred. The court may provide the same relief as described in 49-2-506. In addition, the court may in its discretion allow the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees and costs.