February 12, 2018 Category: Sexual Harassment
Men and women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace continue to come forward with their stories. For many of these victims, it is too late to pursue legal action against their employers. While victims of sexual harassment do have the right to file a claim against abusive employers, California law limits the amount of time they have to do so. Under the current law, victims who experience sexual harassment or discrimination the workplace have one year from the date of the incident to file a claim.
One year is a fairly short period of time. Victims struggling with harassment or discrimination may be hesitant to come forward and formally accuse their employers of misconduct. While retribution and retaliation by the employer are illegal, many employees still fear for their jobs. As a result, many victims wait too long to speak out and miss the opportunity to file a lawful claim.
Things may soon change for victims of workplace discrimination and harassment. In January, California lawmakers proposed an amendment to this current law. Under the amended law, victims would have three years from the date of the incident to file a claim.
Purpose of a Short Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a period of time in which victims can begin a type of legal action. You can think of the statute of limitations as a type of clock. In sexual harassment cases, the clock will begin to tick as soon as the offending incident occurs. The clock will continue to run for a period of one year. Victims have this amount of time to file a legal claim and initiate a legal process.
Why does a statute of limitations exist, at all? Lawmakers impose a statute of limitations for a couple of different purposes. First, the statute of limitations generally helps to encourage victims to begin the legal process promptly. If no statute of limitations existed, a person could have the possibility of legal action hanging over his or her head indefinitely. Second, the statute of limitations helps to ensure that a claim is supported by evidence. If a victim waits years or decades to file a claim, there may not be sufficient evidence to support their allegations.
In other words, the statute of limitations helps to ensure that substantiated claims are filed within a reasonable amount of time. This helps to preserve fairness to both the victim and accused.
Benefits of Expanding the Statute of Limitations
California lawmakers have recently acknowledged that the statute of limitations is not always fair to victims. For example, the statute of limitations for reporting rape and certain sexual attacks used to be 10 years. A recent change to the law eliminated the statute of limitations for these cases. Two primary thoughts drove this decision. First, some behaviors are so vile that they should never be out of the reach of the law. Second, victims may have legitimate reasons for not coming forward immediately and should not be punished for this.
Expanding the statute of limitations in sexual harassment cases borrows from these viewpoints. While victims should be encouraged to come forward promptly, they should not be punished for coming forward on their own terms. One year does not provide victims with a sufficient amount of time to come to terms with their abuse and file a claim. Deciding to take legal action and file a claim against an employer is a huge undertaking. It may take a lot of thought, encouragement, and analysis. Extending the statute of limitations to a period of three years provides a better system for victims.
Harassment Is a Serious Problem
There is at least one other benefit of extending the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims. Sexual harassment is a serious problem and can cause victims to suffer from lifelong emotional and psychological issues. If these victims had suffered bodily injuries they would have at least two years to file a claim. Because, however, of the circumstances of their injury, they are limited to one year to file a claim. Extending the statute of limitations would help to acknowledge that sexual harassment is a problem and that it should be treated with the same vigilance as other injuries.
Have you been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace? Contact the sexual harassment attorneys at the Briski Law Firm to learn about your legal options. The statute of limitations for filing a sexual harassment complaint is one year from the date of your incident. As a result, it is incredibly important to learn about your rights and the steps involved in filing a claim as soon as possible. We offer a free consultation to our clients, so do not hesitate to call us today.