The Confusion About Statutes of Limitations in Race Discrimination Cases

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employee has 180 days from the date of a discriminatory act to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.  That 180 days is expanded to 300 days in those states which have their own Human Rights Act.  But Title VII is not the only law against race discrimination.

Two other Federal laws are often invoked in race discrimination cases in Federal court.  They are commonly known as §1981 and §1983.  These laws have a two year statute of limitations — and in many instances, §1981 has a four year statute of limitations.  These laws are different from Title VII in several ways, including that they are not subject to any cap on damages, they permit a claim against individuals (where Title VII generally permits the employee to sue only the company), and they do not require the employee to file with the EEOC before filing suit.  It is important to note that §1983 applies only to governmental employers (e.g. for an employee who works for a local fire department), while §1981 can be applied to all employers.

You should still file your Title VII claims if you are within the 180 or 300 days. There is value in using the EEOC, because it has both investigatory and mediation processes that can be extremely useful.  The same holds true for most state human rights agencies.  But if you are beyond the 180/300 days, do not simply let your race discrimination case go.  These other laws may provide you additional claims for relief.

If you are a Federal employee, you have an entirely different procedure to follow and a much shorter statute of limitations.  Most Federal employees also have additional rights before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) if you are terminated.

These statutes and their time frames can be very confusing. If you feel that you have been a victim of discrimination in the workplace, or have experienced any other form of workplace rights violations, contact the employment attorneys at Maduff & Maduff today.