Whether you are a survivor of sexual assault or sexual harassment in the workplace, coming forward with your story can be one of the most difficult things one can do in life. A reluctance or hesitation to come forward with allegations is a common reaction from someone who has endured sexual harassment in the workplace or sexual harassment from a co-worker. However, it is important to remember that federal and state laws place a time limit on your right to bring a sexual harassment claim. When victims fail to bring a claim on time, they may lose their right to do so in the future.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that prohibits an injured party or plaintiff from filing a claim or lawsuit after a set time limit or deadline has passed. These time limits vary depending on the state and type of claim. In California, for example, the statute of limitations on a personal injury claim is two years after the date of the accident or injury. However, the statute of limitations for a workplace sexual harassment claim is different. There are also different statutes of limitations for civil and criminal claims.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) places stringent limits on workplace sexual harassment settlement claims. While state laws may have an impact on this timeline, in general, plaintiffs have 180 calendar days from the most recent incident of sexual harassment to bring their causes of action. This deadline may extend to 300 days if your state has a law against harassment or discrimination on the same grounds, which applies to California.
Assembly Bill 9 in California
On Oct. 10, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 9 into law, which became effective on Jan. 1, 2020, extending the time an employee has to file a charge of harassment or discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment or Housing (DFEH) to three years. Under the law, before an employee can file a civil lawsuit, he or she is required to file a charge with DFEH. The employee, under prior laws, had one year from the end of the alleged conduct to file a charge. After getting a right-to-sue letter from the DFEH, he or she had another year to file the lawsuit.
AB 9 extends the time employees have to file their charge to three years. This extension was deliberately designed to protect #MeToo litigants who, it became apparent, processed incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace slower than others.
Help From Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyers
If you have experienced sexual harassment by a co-worker or in the workplace, it is important to take prompt action. The experienced California sexual harassment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley have a long and successful track record of helping victims seek and obtain justice and fair compensation for their losses. Call us to schedule a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation. We can help you file your complaint in a timely manner so you don't lose your rights.