Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Your Discrimination Claims
Statutes of limitations vary between federal, state, and city court levels. You may have missed the statute of limitations deadline under federal law. However, you may have plenty of time to pursue your rights under state or city laws.
Sometimes, however, it is the other way around. The federal law statute of limitations may be much longer than the state or city statutes of limitations. In short, even though your time to sue under one law has expired, you may have time under another law to seek justice.
If your employer violated your rights at work, you have the right to seek justice. However, the courts require you to obey the time limits they set to file your claim. You need an attorney that knows the statutes of limitations to match the details of your claim. They will help ensure you file your claim in a timely manner to have your day in court.
What Are the Federal Statutes of Limitations for Employment Law Cases?
Federal employment discrimination and harassment cases fall under one of the following laws:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- The Equal Pay Act (EPA)
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- 42 U.S.C. 1981 (Section 1981)
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
You need your “ticket” to go to court under most of these laws. This ticket is called an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Right to Sue Letter. This letter tells the courts you have exhausted your administrative remedies and can file a complaint in federal court.
To obtain a Right to Sue Letter, you must file a “charge” with the EEOC. The time limit (statute of limitations) to submit this charge is 180 days of the last act of discrimination or harassment. In states where there are similar state laws, the time limit increases to 300 days.
If you are filing a suit against a state or government-run employer, the statute of limitations stays 180 days.
The Derek Smith Law Group handles cases in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and California. In these states, the statute of limitations to file with the EEOC is 300 days.
The EEOC will investigate the case within 180 days. After 180 days, they must issue a Right to Sue letter, confirming you have exhausted your administrative remedies. After receipt of the letter, you have a time limit of 90 days to file your complaint in federal court.
Statute of Limitations Chart for Federal, State, and City Courts
|Statute of Limitations||Jurisdiction|
|300 days||EEOC for federal claims in states with similar state laws. Must file with EEOC to obtain a right to sue letter. The EEOC has 180 days to issue the Right to Sue.|
|180 days||EEOC for government defendants such as federal or state government employers. Also applies to states without similar anti-discrimination laws.|
|90 days||Federal Court. Can file your EEOC lawsuit 90 days after receiving a Right to Sue letter.|
|4 years||Federal court for 1981 violations. No need for a Right to Sue|
|60 days||ADEA. Your case must sit with the EEOC for 60 days before you file a complaint in federal court for ADEA violations. No Right to Sue needed|
|Two years||Equal Pay Act and Fair Labor Standards Act statute of limitations to file directly in federal court. No Right to Sue needed.|
|Three Years||EPA and FLSA if the violation were willful|
|10 years||Sex Trafficking Statute. No Right to Sue needed to file a complaint in federal court.|
|3 Years||New York State and New York City Statute of Limitations to file lawsuits of discrimination in court. No Right to Sue needed.|
|5 Years||NYS Sexual assault cases. No Right to Sue Needed.|
|7 years||NYS Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act. NO Right to Sue Needed.|
|Age 55||NYS Child Victims Act provides victims of child sexual assault time to file a lawsuit until they reach age 55. No Right to Sue needed.|
|Two Years||NJLAD Statute of Limitations for State cases in NJ. No right to sue is needed.|
|180 days||Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Statute of Limitations.|
|300 Days||Philadelphia Commission of Human Relations statute of limitations|
|1 year||Florida Commission of Human Relations Statute of Limitations|
|3 Years||Department of Fair Employment and Housing in California statute of limitations for incidents occurring after January 1, 2019|
|2 years||California sexual assault cases can be file directly with the court. No Right to Sue needed.|
|1 year||DFEH public accommodations claims.|
What Are the Exceptions to Filing an EEOC Charge?
As with any legal question, there is always an exception to the rule. EEOC charges are not the only avenue to get your complaint to federal court.
Several laws do not require EEOC filings:
1. 42 U.S.C. 1981. Section 1981 prohibits race discrimination in the workplace. 1981 provides a statute of limitations of four years.
The Right to Sue letter is not required, and the EEOC is not involved in the process. You file directly in the Federal Court.
Race may apply to, but are not limited to, the following terms:
- African American
- Arab Americans
2. ADEA. The ADEA requires you to submit your charge to the EEOC. However, if the charge is under investigation after 60 days, you may bypass the Right to Sue and file the complaint in federal court.
3. The Equal Pay Act. The federal Equal Pay Act deals with a disparity in pay between men and women. Under this law, you have a time limit of two years to file your lawsuit directly with the court. If the employer acted “willfully” in this violation, the statute of limitations is three years.
4. Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA deals mostly with wage and hour compensation for employees. This law includes overtime pay, exempt employee standards, breastfeeding for working mothers, and other laws relating to working conditions.
The statute of limitations to file a violation under the FLSA is two years unless the breach is intentional. If it is intended, the time limit is three years. Lawsuits are filed in federal court and do not need a Right to Sue letter.
5. Sex Trafficking Statute. The Sex Trafficking Statute applies to specific circumstances of sexual misconduct. The statute of limitations is ten years to file a complaint directly in federal court.
Do You Have to Choose Between Filing a Claim with the EEOC or State Agencies?
The EEOC and state agency often maintain an agreement wherein your claim gets filed with both agencies simultaneously. This agreement is known as a “work-sharing agreement.” The agreement means you do not have to run yourself ragged filing with different agencies.
What Is the Statute of Limitations Under New York State Employment Laws?
The New York State Human Rights Law is the law that deals with discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The New York State Division of Human Rights manages violations relating to this law.
Under the New York State Human Rights Law, employees have a time limit of three years to file a complaint in state court for discrimination or harassment in the workplace. No Right to Sue letter is required.
New York State maintains a “work-sharing agreement” with the EEOC.
The Statute of Limitations for discrimination and harassment may be different under the following circumstances:
- Sexual Assault. Sometimes, sexual assault cases can have a statute of limitations of 5 years for you to file a lawsuit in the state court. To determine if your sexual assault claim falls under this statute of limitations, contact the experienced sexual assault lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group.
- Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act (VGMVPA). The VGMVPA protects victims of sexual assault and any other act of violence due to gender. The statute of limitations under this law is seven years to file a complaint with the State Court.
- Child Victims Act (CVA). The CVA protects individuals who were child victims of sexual abuse. This law extends the statute of limitations until the child abuse victim is 55 years old.
What Is the Statute of Limitations Under New York City Employment Laws?
The New York City Human Rights Law protects employees from discrimination and harassment in New York City. Under this law, New York City employees have a statute of limitations of three years to file an employment discrimination or harassment complaint in the local court. The law does not require a Right to Sue letter.
What Is the Statute of Limitations Under New Jersey Employment Laws?
The New Jersey State Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) does not require any administrative remedies or a right to sue letter before filing a complaint in state court. The law provides a two-year time limit to file a claim in state court.
What Is the Statute of Limitations Under Pennsylvania State Employment Laws?
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) handles any charges of employment discrimination or harassment in Pennsylvania. The Statute of Limitations to file a charge with the PHRC is 180 days.
The PHRC must hold your case for at least a year, in most circumstances, before you can obtain a Right to Sue Letter. However, sometimes the PHRC holds your case longer than a year. In that case, you can file a lawsuit with the courts within two years of the agency releasing your case.
The EEOC and the PHRC have a “work-sharing agreement.”
What Is the Statute of Limitations Under Philadelphia Employment Laws?
The Philadelphia Commission of Human Relations (PCHR) gives you 300 days to file a complaint about employment discrimination and harassment. However, if your case has been “parked” with the PCHR for one year. that one-year mark allows you to request your Right to Sue Letter. You have this right even if the charge is still in the “investigation” stage (which is usually the case),
The EEOC and the PCHR also have a “work-sharing agreement.”
What Is the Statute of Limitations Under Florida Employment Laws?
You must file any employment discrimination or harassment charge in Florida with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). The statute of limitations is one year from the date of the incident.
Your case must stay with the FCHR for at least 180 days. After 180 days, you may request a Right to Sue letter to file your complaint in state court.
If the FCHR sits on your case indefinitely, you have four years from the date of discrimination to file your lawsuit. Even though your case may still be pending with the FCHR, your time to sue is still running and will expire four years after you file.
If the FCHR gives you a “probable cause” finding, you have one year from the date of that finding to sue.
The EEOC and the FCHR have a “work-sharing agreement.”
What Is the Statute of Limitations Under California Employment Laws?
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees from workplace discrimination and harassment. Any violation of the law must be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The Statute of Limitations to file a charge with the DFEH is three years from the incident date. However, the incident has to occur after January 1, 2019. Any event before that date has exceeded the prior statute of limitations. It is not grandfathered into the new law.
Sexual assault cases may be filed directly with the courts within two years of the assault.
If your charge is related to public accommodations, as opposed to employment, the statute of limitations is one year to file with the DFEH.
The DFEH and the EEOC have a ”work-sharing agreement.”
Contact Our Experienced Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Lawyers for Your Free Consultation.
Navigating the court system and the statute of limitations is tedious and often complicated. If you are the victim of workplace discrimination and harassment, it is best to contact an experienced attorney to help you throughout the process.
The experienced employment discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group help victims of discrimination and harassment navigate the litigation process daily. We are ready to help you learn your rights and file your claim as quickly as possible.
Did You Experience Workplace Discrimination? Do You Want to Know How Long You Have to File Your Claim of Discrimination or Harassment? Please Contact Us at 800.807.2209 or [email protected] with Your Questions.