You should be able to rest easy after an employee misses a deadline to file a lawsuit. In the past, courts have been lenient when it comes to those deadlines, especially if the employee doesn’t have an attorney.
But now the tide seems to be turning. Courts are beginning to get stricter about deadlines.
Recent case: Michael Davis filed an EEOC complaint alleging discrimination after he was fired from his job as a security officer. The reason for his termination: He repeatedly failed to renew his New York state security officer license.
The EEOC dismissed the case and gave him 90 days to file a federal lawsuit. He missed that deadline by a few days. He tried to persuade the court to reinstate his suit because he had been on vacation when the right-to-sue letter arrived.
The court refused to extend the deadline. It reasoned that even if the vacation meant he got the letter a week late, that still gave him plenty of time to beat the 90-day deadline. (Davis v. Columbia University, No. 09-CV-9581, SD NY, 2010)
Final note: Of course, you must be careful about meeting your deadlines, too. Don’t delay even a day when you get a court summons or other legal document. Contact your attorneys right away. You may have only 20 or 30 days to respond, depending on the type of lawsuit. And that time can be eaten up quickly, especially during busy times.