Practically every type of legal claim has a time limit in which you must file that claim or else you are barred from doing so. Personal injury claims, like slip-and-falls or car accidents, have pretty straightforward limits, such as two years from the date of the injury. However, with federal employment discrimination claims the time limit for filing varies depending on several factors.
Factors that affect statute of limitations
Some of the factors that have an effect on the time limit for filing certain employment discrimination claims include the following:
- When does the employee believe (or should have believed) that he or she was subjected to discrimination?
- Was the discriminatory act a “continuing violation?”
- When did the employee receive his or her “right to sue letter” from the EEOC?
- Is there a state or local agency similar to the EEOC that requires administrative filing?
- Which federal law governs the type of discrimination claim being alleged?
- Is the employee a federal employee?
Filing an EEOC charge and the applicable time limits
If your discrimination claims are based on a violation of Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the employee is required to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC before a lawsuit can be filed in federal court.
In most cases, the deadline for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC is 180 days from the date the discrimination occurred. However, if there is a state or local law that prohibits the same type of discrimination, the deadline for filing an EEOC charge for claims brought under Title VII, PDA and ADA is increased to 300 days. The same is true for state law claims that prohibit age discrimination, but not for a similar local law. Ultimately, the deadline for filing an EEOC charge for a Title VII, PDA, ADA or ADEA claim will be either 180 or 300 days
When can you file an employment discrimination in court?
After filing an EEOC charge pursuant to Title VII, the PDA or the ADA, you must receive a “Notice of Right to Sue” (also referred to as a “right to sue letter”) from the EEOC before you can file a lawsuit in court. The EEOC automatically issues a right to sue letter after the agency’s investigation has concluded and no probable cause has been found. The good news is, a finding of no probable cause does not prohibit you from filing your lawsuit or winning in court.
On the other hand, if the EEOC finds that probable cause exists, the EEOC will suggest mediation in order to settle the issues between you and your employer. If mediation
fails, the EEOC may choose to sue your employer on your behalf. This is very rare, however. It is quite common for the EEOC to fail to complete its investigation within 180 days after your charge was filed. If that happens, you have the option to request that a right to sue letter be issued so you can file your lawsuit. Either way, once you receive your right to sue letter, you have 90 days to file your lawsuit based on Title VII, the PDA, and/or the ADA. If you do not, then your lawsuit is time-barred and will be dismissed.
ADEA claims do not require a Notice of Right to Sue
Claims asserting violations of the ADEA do not require the issuance of a right to sue letter before you can file your lawsuit. Instead, you can file an ADEA lawsuit after 60 days have passed from the day you filed your EEOC charge. If you receive notice from the EEOC that it has completed its investigation, then you have 90 days from that day to file your lawsuit.
There are other statute of limitations for other types of federal employment discrimination claims, so if you have questions, contact our employment discrimination attorneys immediately. If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.