What Is the Statute of Limitations to File a Hostile Workplace Environment Claim?
If you or a loved one are experiencing or have experienced hostility at your place of work due to the actions or behavior of an employer of coworker you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for the damages. Hostile work environments can be incredibly devastating for victims unfortunate enough to have to experience it. Often, those who work under such hostility and abuse, are either pressured to quit their job, spoiling their chances of earning unemployment benefits or having to endure continued abuse and harassment. Fortunately, victims of hostile work environments can retain a skilled attorney to help them sue their employer for their actions; however, many are unsure of what the statute of limitations for filing their case is, and what this statute even means. At California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group our skilled hostile work environment attorneys can not only represent you and your case in court, but we can also help you understand the ins and outs of the statute of limitations, and how they might influence your case. If you have any questions after reading this article, please feel free to reach out to our law offices for a free consultation from one of our well-versed legal associates.
Can I Sue My Employer For Creating A Hostile Work Environment?
For starters, many new clients come into our law firm seeking representation for their hostile work environment case and are unsure whether or not they can even file their case, to begin with. The laws that dictate hostile work environments can change depending on what state you’re in. However, there are two factors that limit hostile work environment lawsuits in California. To put it simply, the following two factors must be present in your case to sue your employer for creating or facilitating a hostile work environment:
- The hostility shown by your employer involved discrimination or;
- The employer’s hostile and abusive actions breached some formerly agreed to contract between you and the employer.
So, unfortunately, if your hostile work environment does not involve discrimination, or somehow breach an employer-employee contract you cannot sue your employer for the damages caused by their actions and behavior. However, if your employer is harassing you, your company’s HR department can more than likely resolve the issue.
Hostile work environment lawsuits are complicated, and can in most cases, intimidate many of those who experience hostility at the workplace. For instance, filing a lawsuit for a breach of contract can be challenging in that every contract is different, and it often takes a truly skilled lawyer to analyze the fine print on employer-employee agreements.
Suing for discrimination can be just as challenging as the process can take some time, and can discourage many victims from seeking resolution to their case. For example, the following elements must be present to justify suing for a hostile work environment involving discrimination:
- The actions of your employer must show, in some way, that they are discriminating against you based on your religion, disability, race, color, or age.
- Your employer’s behavior and actions must last for an extended period. As such you cannot sue your employer for one off-handed comment. Any and all incidents where your employer abused you and created a hostile work environment should be recorded and filed with your company’s HR department.
- If your company does nothing or little to nothing to remedy the issue after repeated reports of harassment, you can move forward with legal action against your employer.
- The actions of your employer must be severe and consistent enough to disrupt your ability to fulfill the requirements of the job, by hindering your day-to-day work.
Once you’ve been able to identify what kind of hostile work environment you are experiencing, you must follow very particular steps to bring your case to successful resolution. One of the first things you want to do is reach out to an HR representative as they will want to resolve your issue out of court, and as quickly as possible. However, HR, or human resource departments, don’t always come to a settlement that satisfies your damages. If this is the case, it is crucial that you keep your accurate documentation to be used in court. You should also collect evidence like: eyewitness testimonies from some of your coworkers, text-messages between you and your employer, and any phone conversations shared that ended in hostility. Reporting to HR is essential to reaching a successful end to your case. By reporting your incidents to your HR representative, you not only document all of the moments of harassment but can show to a jury that you exhausted all avenues of solution.
After you’ve consulted an HR representative, and nothing has been done, you can file a claim with either the federally led Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, or your state led anti-discrimination agency. These agencies will review your case, and once approved; you can actively take your employer, or coworker to court for their actions.
While all of this can seem particularly complicated, one of the most frequent questions our hostile work environment attorneys receive is: how much time do you have to file a lawsuit against your boss? Fortunately, our attorneys are well equipped to answer this question and to help you follow these strict time-limit guidelines.
How long do you have to sue your boss for a hostile work environment?
As mentioned before, new clients with hostile work environment cases often ask our attorneys what the deadline is to file a hostile work environment lawsuit against their employer in the state of California. For starters, the time limit, one has to sue a particular party for the damages caused by their negligent behavior or actions is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies from state to state and can change depending on the type of case that is being filed.
The statute of limitations for hostile workplaces can be drastically different from the statute of limitations that dictate things like personal injury or wrongful death. As mentioned prior, victims of hostile work environments must first gain approval to sue from an anti-discrimination agency. This can be the federally led EEOC or a state-run anti-discrimination agency. These agencies are put in place to enforce the strict anti-discriminatory laws that are in place across the United States.
Before you receive approval from an anti-discrimination agency, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply to you. This is the case, because the time it takes to gather evidence, documents substantial incidents, and wait for your Human Resources department to resolve the issue, can vary drastically from case to case. The statute of limitations doesn’t apply to cases of hostile work environment lawsuits until after the plaintiff or injured party receives a ‘right-to-sue’ letter. After this particular letter statute of limitations laws dictate how long you have to take your employer or coworker to court.
The statute of limitations for filing a hostile work environment lawsuit can change depending on what agency you decided to file your claim with. For example, if you filed your claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you have 180 days to file a charge of discrimination against your employer or company. However, if you filed a claim with a state or local body this time limit is lengthened to 300 days. If you fail to follow these predetermined time limits you will more than likely have your case dismissed from court. For this reason, if you or a loved one have experienced a hostile work environment, it is in your best interest that you seek legal guidance from an attorney well-versed in how the statute of limitations influence you and your case. With the help of a lawyer, you may even be able to settle your case before having to file a report with the EEOC or a state agency. Usually, companies will want to avoid the legal expenditures that come with disputing a hostile work environment claim in court, as such, they will attempt to reach a settlement outside of court, which usually come in the forms of hefty severance packages, or a termination of the person responsible for facilitating the hostile work environment. A skilled attorney can help you negotiate the best resolution to your case, and can ensure you don’t make a tragic mistake in attempting to sue your employer.
How California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group Can Help
It has been shown that hostile work environments can lead to emotional trauma that a victim can feel for years afterward. Victims of hostile work environments, often feel trapped, and as such may be unaware of their options of resolution. With the help of a law firm experienced in fighting hostile work environment cases, victims can receive the positive resolution that they hoped for. If you or a loved one has experienced a hostile work environment, our attorneys at California Labor Law Employment Attorneys Group can help you. Our well-versed hostile work environment attorneys can guide you every step of the way from filing a report with your HR representative to bringing your case before the party responsible. Victims of hostile work environments can contact our law offices to learn more about how we can provide assistance. While our law firm is based in Los Angeles, our attorneys also practice in San Diego, San Francisco, Bakersfield, Oakland, San Jose, Riverside, San Bernardino, Long Beach, Orange County, Irvine and throughout the state of California.
Free Second Opinions
Other attorneys will sign you up for their firm but will disappear once your name is on the paper as they are busy signing up more cases. In these instances, their business is based more on volume and will attempt to sign up as many cases as possible. In turn, they will spend less time on cases resulting in severely reduced settlements. Our firm will not treat you like a number. We will be in communication with you throughout our lawsuit and will treat you like family. So if you already have an attorney don’t worry, we’ll give you a second review of your case 100% free of charge.
Zero Fee Guarantee-No Upfront Fees Ever
If you contact our law offices today, we can walk you through the complicated process of filing your claim completely free of charge. As a show this commitment to you and your case we offer our clients the benefits of a zero fee guarantee policy. Under our zero fee policy, all clients don’t pay for our services until their case is won. If you feel in need of a second opinion, second opinion case reviews are also free under this policy. Please, feel free to give us a call, and we can guide you down the path of receiving proper compensation for your damages.