All employment discrimination claims have statutes of limitations, or deadlines for asserting the claims. Discrimination is often prohibited by state, federal, and even municipal laws – each of which may identify a different deadline. Thus, the first step in figuring out your deadline for bringing a claim is to identify what law or laws apply. Then, the applicable law(s) will determine your deadlines.
Understanding the Minnesota Human Rights Act
Here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) provides individuals with one year to initiate their state-law employment discrimination claims. To satisfy the MHRA’s statute of limitations, within one year of the discriminatory act, you must either file a charge of discrimination with an appropriate government agency or initiate your claims directly in court.
Various federal laws also prohibit discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Strangely enough, the statutes of limitations for claims pursuant to these laws are determined by the state in which the claims arise. In general, you have 180 days from the adverse action to file a charge of discrimination under federal law. However, if the claim arose in Minnesota or in some other states where a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits discrimination on the same basis as the federal law, you would have 300 days from the adverse action to file the charge. Note that to satisfy the requirements of these federal laws, you must file a charge of discrimination with an appropriate government agency within the deadline; you cannot go directly to court as you can under the MHRA.
To further complicate matters, these deadlines can vary based on who your employer is. Individuals have shorter deadlines for bringing claims against certain employers – most notably the federal government. Federal employees may have as few as 45 days to initiate contact with a federal agency EEO counselor to begin the discrimination claim process.
Discriminatory Conduct Over Time
Determining the deadline to bring a claim can also be difficult when the discriminatory conduct occurred over a period of time, instead at only specific point in time. In this situation, courts may apply the continuing violations doctrine which allows a plaintiff to bring a claim against the employer as long as one of the discriminatory acts fell within the statute of limitations. This situation often arises in the context of sexual harassment or hostile work environment claims.
Finally, for most employment discrimination statutes, the statute of limitations begins to run upon the employee receiving notice of the adverse action. In other words, if your employer tells you on December 1 that it will be terminating your employment on December 31, your statute of limitations will most likely start on December 1 – the date you were informed of the termination – not from the 31st, when you were actually terminated.
Employment Discrimination Claim Attorneys
There are additional nuances and exceptions that may apply that affect these deadlines. And, deadlines for related non-discrimination-based claims may be shorter or longer. When trying to navigate the deadlines for initiating employment discrimination and other employment-based claims, getting good advice from experienced legal counsel is key. Employment discrimination lawyer Minneapolis is available for a free consultation to assist you.