Is There a Time Limit for Sexual Harassment Claims in NY?
Sexual harassment in the workplace can cause significant emotional distress, create hostile working environments, and threaten employees’ livelihoods. If you experience harassment at your New York job, you may wonder what your legal options are. The truth is that you have multiple avenues to justice available to you, but you will need to file your complaint by the appropriate deadline. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations imposes a time limit on when a person can file certain legal claims. For example, New York requires employees who are pursuing defamation lawsuits to file their documents within one year of the defamatory act.
Statutes of limitations are important for several reasons. They protect a defendant from the ongoing, indefinite threat of a lawsuit. They also ensure that a plaintiff files his or her claim within a timely manner, which in turn ensures that witness memories are reliable, and evidence is still available for review.
Different processes adhere to different deadlines. If you are filing a sexual harassment claim, you could have as little as 180 days to as long as three years to lodge the complaint, depending on the legal action you take.
New York’s Updated Statute of Limitations
The New York State Human Rights Law oversees protections against discrimination and harassment, including workplace sexual harassment. Under this legislation, you have the right to file a discrimination complaint for sexual harassment with the New York Division on Human Rights.
In August 2020, the state extended the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims related to employment. Previously, employees had one year from the date of the harassment to file their claims. Now, you have three years to file your complaint.
Time Limits Under Federal Law
While New York does have protections in place for workers who experience sexual harassment, this conduct is illegal on a federal level as well. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act states that sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination and takes steps to protect employees from hostile working environments and quid pro quo harassment. You have the option to pursue a federal complaint by filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC states that employees who wish to file a charge must do so within 180 calendar days of the harassment. However, since New York has state laws in place that protect employees against sexual harassment, the EEOC extends this deadline to 300 calendar days from the date of the harassment.
Get Help from a Sexual Harassment Attorney
You can seek justice for sexual harassment through a number of accountability processes, from lodging a complaint with your employer, filing a claim with the New York Division on Human Rights or an EEOC charge of discrimination, or filing a sexual harassment lawsuit in civil court. Most sexual harassment cases begin with a workplace complaint, escalate to a state or federal charge, and possibly move to a lawsuit if you cannot reach a fair resolution.
Understanding which pathway to take can be difficult without an attorney on your side. A New York sexual harassment attorney will understand how each of these processes work and can use this knowledge to advise on how you should proceed with your complaint. Your lawyer can also help you gather evidence, build a compelling case in your favor, and prepare you for each stage of your claim.
Speak to your attorney as soon as you believe you are experiencing sexual harassment to discuss your path forward.