How Long Do I Have To Sue My Employer?
Ohio Employment Discrimination Lawyer Best Answer: How long do I have to file a
discrimination lawsuit against my employer? Can my employer shorten my time to
sue for discrimination or harassment? Can my employer make me sign something
that shortens the time I have to file a wrongful termination lawsuit? What can I do if I signed an
agreement that shortens the time, I have to file a lawsuit?
I am sure
that my experience is not a unique one, but when I was growing up, I had the
gym teacher from hell! My high school gym teacher would make us run sprints up
and down the gym floor at the end of every class. The worst part was these
sprints were timed! My gym teacher would give us 20 seconds to sprint from one end
of the gym all the way to the other end and back. If students were not able to
make the 20-second deadline my gym teacher would make us all run again, only
this time we had 18 seconds to complete the sprints. It never seemed fair to me
that my gym teacher could just shorten, what already seemed like a short amount
of time, to complete our task.
really haven’t changed much since high school. Once you are discriminated
against at work or wrongfully fired, that starts the clock. Let’s look at some
of those time limits in Ohio and under federal employment laws:
Compensation Retaliation (State Claim Only): 90 days to send notification
of claim and 180 days to file a lawsuit.
- Age Discrimination: Under state law, you have 180 days
to file a lawsuit; and under federal law, you must file your employment claim
with the EEOC within 180 days.
- Whistleblower Claims: State law claims for retaliation
or wrongful termination under Ohio R.C. §§ 4113.52 or 3721.24 must be filed in court
within 180 days.
- Family and Medical Leave
Unlike Title VII claims, FMLA
claims do not have to be filed (and cannot be filed) with the EEOC, but must be
filed in court within two years.
- Military Status Claims: The Uniformed Services
Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”)
protects our armed forces from being discriminated against in civilian job.
These claims must be brought in four years.
- Claims for Race/Color, Religion, Gender, National Origin, Disability, and Pregnancy
Discrimination, as well as Sexual Harassment:
Under Federal Law, these claims fall under Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 and must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days. Under
Ohio law, these employment discrimination claims, which would include wrongful
firing, must be filed in court within six years.
Unfortunately, this is all very
confusing – particularly when the clock starts. Obviously, with a wrongful
termination claim, the clock would start when the employee is fired. However,
if there was ongoing discrimination before that or other adverse employment
actions (demotions, failure to promote, harassment) going on before that, you
may need to start the clock as of those events – but you may not. It is all to
tricky to resolve from just reading the basic on an employment blog (even the
best employment lawyer blog in the land!). Therefore, your best course of
action is always to contact an employment law attorney directly to get advice.
Even more unfortunately, these
issues can get even more complicated. As a large employment law firm, our
discrimination attorneys and wrongful termination lawyers have seen a lot of
employers exercise their power in a way that reminds me of my high school gym
teacher. These employers use the power they have over their employees to
shorten the time employees have to exercise their legal rights. Obviously,
shortening the time a person has to file a discrimination lawsuit is a lot
worse than shortening the time someone has to run across the gym and back. That
being said, both situations leave me angry and short of breath.
In Thurman v. DaimlerChrysler Inc., the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeal
held that certain language in an agreement between an employer and an employee
can shorten the time an employee has to file a lawsuit (in the legal field this
timeframe is called the statute of limitations). Specifically, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the following language
READ CAREFULLY BEFORE SIGNING I
agree that any claim or lawsuit relating to my service with Chrysler
Corporation or any of its subsidiaries must be filed no more than six (6)
months after the date of the employment action that is the subject of the claim
or lawsuit. I waive any statute of limitations to the contrary.
Sixth Circuit’s decision in Thurman allowed
employers to include in their employment agreements clauses that reduced the
statute of limitations, for employment discrimination claims, to as little as
six months! I thought to knock two seconds off our time to run sprints was bad.
If my gym teacher had limited our time for sprints the way employers try to
limit their employee’s statute of limitations our time to run would have gone
from 20 seconds to 5 seconds. Talk about unfair!
Even more problematic, these
contractual limitations provisions can be buried in handbooks, one of the
multitude of documents pushed in front of an employee to sign on the first day
of work, or even on the application for the job. Then most of these employers
will not remind the employee of this limitations provision when firing the
employee. As such, the best course of action is to find an employment law
lawyer to help you as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, the United States
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which includes oversight over Ohio,
recently recognized that there is a bit of a loophole to these statute of
limitation shortening agreements. In Logan v. MGM
Grand Detroit Casino, the Sixth Circuit held that agreements
that shorten an employee’s statute of limitations do not apply to claims
brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
our regular readers know, Title VII is the federal anti-discrimination law. Much
like Ohio’s R.C. 4112, Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race/color, religion, gender/sex, age and national origin. Likewise, disability discrimination is prohibited under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
In order to pursue a claim under Title VII, an employee must file a claim with
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
within 300 days of the last adverse employment action. Side note, before you
run off to the EEOC on your own check out some of our blogs on the process and call the right attorney! (See Top Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC
Without Doing This First; File With The EEOC Or Get A Lawyer? Call The Right
Attorney; Should I Get A Lawyer To Help Me File An EEOC Charge?; and Should I File With The EEOC On My Own? Call The Right
In Logan,a former culinary worker for the MGM Grand Casino had signed an
employment agreement which contained the following language;
I agree that any claim or lawsuit
arising out of my employment with, or my application for employment with, MGM
Grand or any of its subsidiaries must be filed no more than six (6) months
after the date of the employment action that is the subject of the claim or
lawsuit. While I understand that the statute of limitations for claims arising
out of an employment action may be longer than six (6) months, I agree to be
bound by the six (6) month period of limitations set forth herein, and I WAIVE
ANY STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS TO THE CONTRARY.
she was employed at the MGM Grand Logan experienced employment discrimination based
on her gender and retaliation based on her participation in protected activity.
(For more on gender discrimination and retaliation based on protected
activities see our blogs My Company
Doesn’t Allow Women To Be Promoted! and Can I Be Fired
For Reporting Discrimination To HR?). As a result of the
discrimination and retaliation, she was experiencing Logan had no choice but to
quit. Approximately 216 days after she quit Logan filed a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC. After a lengthy EEOC investigation, Logan
received a Right to Sue letter and took MGM to court. By the time Logan filed
her formal lawsuit over 400 days had passed since her resignation from MGM.
Logan’s case went before the court MGM argued that Logan had not filed her
lawsuit within the six-month time period her employment agreement limited her
to. The 6th Circuit disagreed with MGM’s argument. Instead, the court found
that that the six-month statute of limitations that Logan had agreed to had no
impact on Logan’s right to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC
outside of the agreement’s six-month period. Rather, the court found that the
important timeframe was Title VII’s own 300-day statute of limitations. The Sixth
Circuit explained their holding saying;
The 300-day limitation period to
sue under Title VII is a substantive, rather than procedural, rule. And because
it is clear that there can be no prospective waiver of an employee’s rights
under Title VII, it naturally follows that the limitation period of this
statute is not prospectively waivable as it pertains to litigation.
you should take away from today’s blog is this: The most important thing is to
hurry up and call a lawyer that focuses on employment law to evaluate and protect
your claims as soon as possible. Do not wait! Call The Right Attorney!
Secondly, just because your
evil boss, manager or supervisor says that your claims are time-barred does not
necessarily mean that they really are. Even if you have signed an agreement
with your employer that claims to limit the time you have to bring a lawsuit
you need to call the right attorney!
Your claims may not be lost.
Discrimination and harassment, that is based on race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, disability discrimination, and military status is illegal under Ohio law R.C. § 4112.02 and federally under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act. If you have been discriminated against based on
your race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability,
age, or ancestry you should not wait to call the
right attorney to
schedule a free and confidential consultation.
If you have signed an agreement that limits the time you have to file a lawsuit
do not wait! Call our office at 866-797-6040. At
The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with an experienced
employment law attorney to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to
protect them. Discrimination based on a protected class is illegal, and
employers, including supervisors, should be held accountable if they
discriminate against their employees in any fashion. It does not matter if you
have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no reason to wait to
find out what your legal rights are and how to protect yourself from harassment
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