Anytime a legal wrong has been committed against a person, the aggrieved party has only a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit against the individual, company, etc. that committed the legal wrong. The time that one has to file a lawsuit is referred to as the statute of limitations. The length of time that you have to file varies depending on the nature of the lawsuit. For example, in California, an individual has two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.
In the case of employment lawsuits involving cases of wrongful termination, harassment and discrimination, there is also a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. However, there is one major difference between statute of limitations for employment lawsuits and other non-employment related lawsuits. Namely, there are two statutes of limitations for employment related lawsuits.
Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, where your attorney files your lawsuit with the court following your injury, a lawsuit for wrongful termination, harassment and/or discrimination has a two-step process. Before your attorney is permitted to file an employment lawsuit, s/he must first file a claim with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
Your attorney must file your claim with either the DFEH or the EEOC within one year from the date of your termination or the last date you experienced harassment and/or discrimination. Accordingly, there is a short statute of limitation on employment cases. Now, the analysis does not end here. Once a claim is filed with either the DFEH or EEOC, your attorney can request a “Right to Sue Letter,” which allows your attorney to file a lawsuit immediately. Alternatively, your attorney can ask the DFEH or EEOC to conduct an investigation into your allegations and possibly try and resolve your claims without filing a lawsuit.
If your attorney elects to have an investigation of your claims conducted and after the investigation you are unable to resolve your claim against your employer, you will then be issued a “Right to Sue” letter. The investigation can take several months to complete, which will lead to delay in the filing of your lawsuit if you are unable to resolve claim.
Once your attorney is in possession of your right to sue letter from either the DFEH or the EEOC, your attorney has one more year from the date that the Right to Sue letter was issued by the DFEH or EEOC to file your lawsuit with the court. If your attorney waits more than one year from the date that the letter was issued, you will not be able to pursue your lawsuit against your employer.
While you have to years from the date of your wrongful termination to file a your lawsuit, that is a bit misleading. You only have one year to file a claim with the DFEH or EEOC from the date of the wrongful act. One year may sound like a long time, however as you get busy with your life, one year can past quickly. Once that year is gone, there is nothing your attorney can do to revive your lawsuit.
Therefore, it is important to contact an attorney at The Rinka Law Firm ((310) 556-9653) to make sure your right to sue is preserved after you have been harassed, discriminated and/or wrongfully terminated.