April 22, 2019 Category: Discrimination
You have the right to take legal action if you’re the victim of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. However, you only have a very limited amount of time to act. Under current law, you must file your complaint within 12 months of the discriminatory conduct.
For many victims of workplace harassment, this isn’t nearly enough time. It can take a while to come to terms with the abuse you’ve experienced and gather the courage to file a lawsuit. As a result, many victims lose the right to hold their employers accountable in court.
Fortunately, things may be changing in California. Three state lawmakers recently proposed a new bill that would extend the statute of limitations for workplace discrimination lawsuits. Under the bill, victims would have an additional two years to bring a discrimination case against an employer. This would provide employees with the time they need to process the harassment they’ve experienced and step forward to assert their rights.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
In California, you may have the right to file a civil lawsuit if you’ve been harmed by another person. However, this right doesn’t last forever. Lawsuits are subject to what is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a set amount of time that you have to file your initial complaint. The amount of time you’ll have will depend on why you’re suing.
Think of the statute of limitations as a clock. In workplace discrimination cases, the clock begins to run the moment the “last unlawful practice occurred.” The statute of limitations begins to run the last time you’re harassed or discriminated against. Many times, this is when you are fired or leave your job.
Under current law, the clock runs for a period of one year. You have until time runs out to initiate your workplace harassment lawsuit. You lose your right to take legal action once time runs out. In other words, you’ll be out of luck if you wait too long to file your lawsuit. Your case will be barred and you won’t be able to hold your employer accountable and recover the compensation you deserve.
Extending the Statute of Limitations in Workplace Discrimination Cases
One year isn’t a lot of time. In fact, many employees lose the right to file a lawsuit because one year goes by so quickly. Many factors – including embarrassment, fear, or uncertainty – can prevent you from filing your workplace discrimination lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Many employees fear losing their jobs or retaliation if they initiate a lawsuit while still at work.
Three female state assemblymembers have set out to make things easier for victims of discrimination. California Assembly Bill 9 (AB 9) would extend the statute of limitations for workplace discrimination lawsuits from one year to three years. AB 9 would apply to lawsuits involving:
- Gender discrimination
- Sexual harassment
- Age discrimination
- Race discrimination
- Disability harassment
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Wrongful termination, and more.
There are potential drawbacks to extending the statute of limitations by two years. One reason statutes of limitations exist is to ensure that the best possible evidence is used in litigation. Many workplace harassment lawsuits rely heavily on witness testimony and memories. It’s possible that evidence may become less reliable as time goes on.
California law protects you if you are the victim of discrimination or harassment at work. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney for help. Call the Briski Law Firm today to find out how we can help you assert your rights.