employment law attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas
Cox, Sterling & McClure      501-954-8073
by M. McClure on Apr 8, 2011 at 2:31 PM

EEOC deadlines for discrimination litigationIn a recent case, Frazier v. Vilsack, the Eighth Circuit upheld the dismissal of a Title VII racial discrimination case filed one day after the expiration of the statute of limitations.  This is a clear example of how seriously courts take deadlines.  In Frazier, the employee filed his lawsuit against a government employer 96 days after the EEOC mailed him the right-to-sue letter.  Under Title VII, an employee has 90 days from the time the notice is received to file suit against the employer. 

The district court found that the right-to-sue letter did not arrive until five days after the date the letter was issued.  Therefore, the employee did not file his suit for 91 days, one day past the statute of limitations.  The Eighth Circuit noted that it was not clear whether Title VII’s statute of limitations were jurisdictional or an issue of equitable tolling, but that it did not matter.  One day late is still too late.  The employee tried to argue that he didn’t receive the right-to-sue letter until after March 18th, the day the trial court found the letter arrived, but could not provide evidence to support his claim.  He also argued that he did not always open his mail on the day it arrived, and therefore would not have had notice until after the 18th.  The Court held that such arguments had no impact on the statute of limitations.  

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4/13/2011 10:42:11 PM

Yes, our courts are very strict in implementing the statute of limitations in all cases filed on their jurisdictions. Thus, it is very important for plaintiffs and even for us lawyers to abide by the time constraints in pursuing a particular case.

4/14/2011 10:22:09 AM

Agreed! In Arkansas, the time for filing a complaint with the EEOC is only 180 because we do not have a state human rights commission. That time can fly by a plaintiff who is wondering what next steps to take after an adverse employment action. Thanks for your comment!

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