California Legislature Contemplates Extending Discrimination and Harassment Statute of Limitations from One to Three Years

In the wake of the sexual harassment scandal that rocked several prominent figures in Hollywood and the media, and the #metoo movement that followed, many various institutions began taking a fresh look at making changes when it comes to sexual harassment. Legislative bodies are among these groups. Some states, like New Jersey and California, have considered bills that would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment or discrimination cases. Also here in California, the state legislature is weighing additional actions to afford greater protection to employees who are victims of harassment. If you think you’ve been a victim of harassment at work, you should reach out to a knowledgeable California sexual harassment attorney to ensure that your rights and your entitlement to compensation are properly represented and protected.

The new bill currently under consideration in the state Assembly is one that would create a dramatic shift in the way certain cases are allowed to proceed in court. Currently, employees who want to pursue harassment claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act have only one year after the last act of harassment. If passed as proposed, AB1870, the Stopping Harassment and Reporting Extension Act, would extend that limitations period from one year to three years, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors told the Mercury News that the longer statute of limitations is needed to address some of the unique problems facing victims of workplace harassment. “We have found that many of the victims fear retaliation. There’s also this shame that they feel,” Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes stated. All of these things can cause a victim to delay pursuing her or his rights and initiating a legal case.

Scientific publications appear to support the assemblywoman’s argument. Psychology Today identified eight reasons why victims of harassment might delay speaking out. They included shame, fear of reprisals, denial, low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, a past history of sexual victimization, lack of information, and the involvement of controlled substances.

Under the current procedural framework, here’s what faces a victim of workplace harassment. You must file a claim with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and must do so within 12 months of the last incident of harassment. You must do this first because filing a claim with the department is a prerequisite to suing in court for harassment. If you wait more than 12 months before filing with the department, the current statute of limitations may lead to the dismissal of your case entirely.

If this bill passes as written, it could be a substantial benefit to employees. The expansion of the statute of limitations from one year to three years would apply to all harassment and discrimination cases under the FEHA, rather than just sexual harassment claims.

If you believe that you have been a victim of harassment or discrimination at work, it is worth your while to seek legal counsel right away. Even with a longer statute of limitations, the sooner you take action, the sooner you can potentially obtain compensation. The Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch have been working diligently on behalf of mistreated workers for many years. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-1073 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

What Evidence Is Needed to Put Together a Successful Employment Discrimination Case in California?, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Dec. 15, 2016

Deciding When the ‘Clock’ Starts Running for the Statute of Limitations in Your California FEHA Case, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Sept. 27, 2017