Ohio Best Employment Law Attorney Response: Can employers contractually change my statute of limitations? What should I do if I was wrongfully fired today based on my race and gender? How much time do I have to sue my job?
As our employment lawyers have blogged before, for many of the Ohio law claims under R.C. § 4112.02(A), such as race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, or disability discrimination, an employee has up to six years after they are terminated to bring a claim against the company, but only 180 days to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) for claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – and then 90 days to sue once the EEOC gives you a right to sue letter. (See How Long Do I Have To Sue My Employer? I Need A Discrimination Lawyer!; How Long Do I Have To File A Claim For Employment Discrimination With The EEOC? Best Lawyer Answer!) Wage theft claims for overtime or minimum wage violations have a two or three year look back depending on the circumstances. (See How Far Back In Time Can I Sue My Employer For Overtime Violations? I Need The Best Wage Theft Lawyer!).
Employers are beginning to find new ways to reduce the costs of litigation associated with defending discrimination claims. One of the newest ways is to add a small paragraph in tiny print stating any and all claims brought against the company must be brought within six months after termination. This would force an employee who would normally have six years after termination to bring a claim within six months after they are fired from their job. Many of you may ask, is that legal? What if the employee doesn’t even remember signing something like that?
Unfortunately, some courts have upheld contractual provisions in applications of employment or employment agreements shortening the statute of limitations. One of the clear exceptions to this attempt to shorten statutes of limitation are claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA“) where an employee has alleged the employer has failed to properly pay overtime pay. In Boaz v. FedEx, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Ohio) held FedEx could not enforce a contractual agreement all employees consented to for FLSA claims. The provision stated:
To the extent the law allows an employee to bring legal action against Federal Express Corporation, I agree to bring that complaint within the time prescribed by law or 6 months from the date of the event forming the basis of my lawsuit, whichever expires first.
The Court held that the provision could not be enforced upon FLSA or Equal Pay Act (“EPA”)statutory [FLSA] rights….Thus, as applied to Boaz’s claim under the FLSA, the six-month limitations period in her employment agreement is invalid.…Congress enacted the Equal Pay Act as an amendment to the FLSA. By then the Supreme Court had already held that employees cannot waive their FLSA claims for unpaid wages and liquidated damages. We therefore presume that, by folding the Equal Pay Act into the FLSA, Congress meant for claims under the Equal Pay Act to be unwaivable as well.”
Therefore, it is important to pay careful attention to all of the documents you sign when you apply for and accept employment at any employer. If you agree to shorten the statute of limitations on any claim against the company, you will need to make sure you provide yourself enough time after termination to seek legal advice and bring a claim. If you do not inform your attorney you have contractually agreed to shorten your statute of limitations, you could risk losing your right to sue.
As such, the best practice is to consult with employment law lawyers as quickly as possible – even if you just think that you are going to be fired or forced to quit because of employment discrimination. If you have already been wrongfully terminated, call the best employment law lawyer that you can find as quickly as possible.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated;” or “I have been discriminated against based on my …” race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744. The Spitz Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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