Employees sometimes reach a point of being so dissatisfied at work that they just have to quit. The reasons can be many, but when they quit because of illegal discrimination, a lawsuit may be filed. In these circumstances, the act of resigning may also be known as constructive discharge.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on a number of bases, including race, gender, age, and disability. There are multiple ways of opposing the discrimination, but employees may feel so uncomfortable at work that they must quit. A legal question that arises when an employee is in this situation is how long after quitting does she have to file a lawsuit; this is known as the statute of limitations.
State laws vary on this issue, but a common standard is that a suit must be brought within two years of the last unlawful act being committed. The question then becomes what was the last discriminatory act.
A case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court will clarify, at least in federal lawsuits, whether quitting was that last discriminatory act. In the case, a postal employee resigned after being forced to sign a settlement agreement that required him to either retire or accept a substantial demotion. The case was dismissed as being filed after the statute of limitations had expired. The court ruled that the last discriminatory act was the signing of the settlement agreement.
The Supreme Court will be not addressing the issue of whether the employees indeed suffered discrimination–it will only decide whether the act of resigning constitutes the last discriminatory act. Various federal circuit courts have found that resignation is the point at which the statute of limitations starts, while the circuit in which this case was brought has found that resignation does not qualify.
The case will settle this issue only for federal courts. However, most state courts are likely to follow the standard set by the Supreme Court’s ruling. Discrimination is illegal under both state and federal law on almost the exact same bases (i.e. race, gender, age). Consequently, state courts are likely to follow a clear federal statute of limitations standard after it is set. Contact Labor Law Office, APC today to speak with an experienced discrimination lawyer in Fair Oaks.
Sacramento, CA 95821