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How Long Do I Have To Bring A Discrimination Case Under Title VII?

by | Feb 7, 2023 | Disability Discrimination, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Federal Law Update, Race Discrimination, Religious Discrimination |

As our employment lawyers have regularly preached in our blogs, do not wait to bring your potential discrimination claims. This point was recently highlighted by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Brannon v. Secretary, Department Of Veterans Affairs, No. 22-10838, 2023 WL 1161129, at *1 (11th Cir. Jan. 31, 2023). In this case, Audrey Brannon submitted an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) regarding various acts that she believed was discriminatory based on her race/color and disability. In her July 5, 2017 EEOC charge, Brannon complained about a variety of adverse employment actions taken against her, including being placed on a performance improvement plan and being denied overtime opportunities, that occurred between 2015 and early 2016. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia found that the claims were untimely, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

Brannon’s appellate argument centered on the fact that some of these acts were repeated in 2017.

How long do I have to file a claim race discrimination under Title VII?

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, individuals have a limited time frame in which to file a race discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The general rule is that a charge must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory act, although this time frame may be extended to 300 days if the individual is pursuing claims through a state or local fair employment practices agency that enforces a similar law.

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations for filing a charge with the EEOC serves as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in federal court. Once a charge has been filed with the EEOC, the agency will investigate the allegations and decide as to whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred. If the EEOC is unable to resolve the case through conciliation, it may issue a right-to-sue letter, which allows the individual to file a lawsuit in federal court.

In sum, the time frame for bringing a race discrimination case under Title VII depends on when the discriminatory act occurred and the individual’s decision to file a charge with the EEOC or a state or local fair employment practices agency. However, in general, it is advisable to file a charge as soon as possible after the discriminatory act occurs in order to preserve one’s legal rights.

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How does the continuing violations doctrine impact the statute of limitations for a race discrimination case under Title VII?

The continuing violations doctrine is a legal principle that extends the statute of limitations for certain civil rights claims, including race discrimination claims under Title VII. Under this doctrine, a new violation occurs each time an individual experiences the effects of a discriminatory hostile act. However, the continuing violation doctrine typically will be applied to race or other discrimination claims that are based on hostile work environment claims and not discrete acts of discrimination, such as wrongful termination claims.

The effect of the continuing violations doctrine is that it allows for the aggregation of discrete acts of discrimination that occur over time, even if some of those acts would have been outside the statute of limitations if considered individually. This can be important in cases of ongoing or systematic discrimination, where an employee may not have been aware of their rights or the full extent of the discrimination at the time it was happening.

In sum, the continuing violations doctrine impacts the statute of limitations for a race discrimination case under Title VII by potentially extending the time frame within which an employee can bring a claim. The application of this doctrine can be complex, and its availability can depend on a number of factors, including the nature of the discriminatory conduct and the legal jurisdiction in which the case is being brought. Because of the complexity of  this principle, employees should consult employment law attorneys to determine if it may apply to your case.

In Brannon, the employees’ claims did not involve an ongoing hostile work environment but rather alleged discrete adverse employment actions, which could not be save by other alleged discrete acts within the statute of limitations – particularly where those more recent acts did not support any decisions were made based on race or disability.

Do I still have time to sue the company where I work for racial discrimination?

Best Race Discrimination Attorney Answer: As discussed above, time limits for race discrimination and harassment claims are very strictly enforced. Therefore, your best option is to quickly reach out to an employee’s rights law firm to determine your rights and potential claims. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation, you will meet with a race discrimination lawyer from Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?; Why Having Skilled Employment Attorneys Is Critical). Our Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and North Carolina race discrimination attorneys are here to fight for your rights.


The materials available at the top of this race discrimination page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.

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