California Court Denies Employee Discrimination Claim Because of Late Filing

The procedures for successfully pursuing an employment law claim in California can be archaic and confusing. If an employee has been treated illegally by their employer but fails to properly follow the procedure to pursue a claim, they most likely will be left without any relief, even if the facts surrounding the employee’s claim were clearly on the employee’s side. The California Court of Appeals recently affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of an employment discrimination claim because the case was not filed until after the statutory deadline for making such a claim.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case is a woman who worked as a special education assistant for the Los Angeles Unified School District (The defendant) for 15 years between 2000 and 2015. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff was injured on the job in 2015, made a workers’ compensation claim, and took medical leave to address her injuries. In 2017, the plaintiff was cleared by her doctor to return to work with modified duties; however, the defendant determined that she was unable to perform her prior job and offered her a lower-paying position with lighter duties, which the plaintiff refused.

The plaintiff claimed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), alleging that she was discriminated against for her disability and retaliated against for making a workers’ compensation claim. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to make reasonable accommodations for her to return to her original position after she partially recovered from her injuries. On January 23, 2018, the California DFEH issued her a “right to sue” letter, which instructed her that she could file her claims in state court within one year of the date the letter was issued. Three hundred sixty-six days later, one day after the expiration of the right to sue, the plaintiff filed a claim in state court.

In response to the plaintiff’s claim, the school district argued that the statute of limitations had expired, as she failed to file in time. The plaintiff attempted to argue that one of several exceptions to the statute of limitations applied in her case, but the trial court continually denied her arguments. Ultimately, the plaintiff appealed the rulings to the California Court of Appeals, where the lower court rulings were upheld. The plaintiff argued that the one-year limitations period did not include the first and last days of the year and that her complaint was filed on time. The appellate court disagreed, finding that the plaintiff’s interpretation of the deadline had already been rejected by California courts. As a result of the recent appellate ruling, the plaintiff’s substantive arguments will not be heard by a court, and she will be unable to obtain any relief for her claim.

Properly Following Employment Law Procedures Is Essential to Succeed with a Claim

If you believe that you have been discriminated against, retaliated against, withheld wages, or otherwise been mistreated by a California employer, following the proper procedures is extremely important to the success of your claim. Employment law claims in California may require adherence to state and federal procedural requirements, and often certain administrative steps must be taken before a claim can be brought to court. If you are considering a claim, bring your questions to an experienced California employment lawyer with the Nourmand Law Firm. Our attorneys have experience handling discrimination and retaliation cases, and without help, you’ll be confident that procedural requirements and deadlines will not be overlooked. For a free consultation with a California employment law attorney, call 310-553-3600 today.



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