Employers can shorten the time employees have to sue by stipulating uniform claims timeframes that cover all disputes. However, you must be very specific about what’s covered.
Recent case: Janessa Smith signed an employment application that said she agreed to bring all claims arising out of her employment no later than six months after “the date of the employment action.” Smith was fired shortly after she called the police to report what she believed was wrongdoing.
She filed a Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) lawsuit, alleging retaliation within the law’s one-year statute of limitations. But the company said she waited too long.
The court disagreed. It said that the application wasn’t specific enough on what it meant. It should have mentioned employment claims by name and made it clear what was being waived. (Smith v. TA Operating, No. 10-2563, DC NJ, 2011)