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Lawsuit limitation clause may stop New York bias claims, but won’t bar federal cases

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

If New York employers want to shorten the time frame in which former employees can file lawsuits, they can do so by including a clause to that effect in their employment applications. However, that may apply only to New York state claims, not federal ones.

Recent case: Lawrence sued his former employer about nine months after being discharged. He alleged age and disability discrimination under federal laws and similar claims under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL).

He claimed that after taking time off to recover from back surgery, he was repeatedly asked about his age and retirement plans. After telling managers he would retire in about five years, they allegedly began calling him “old man” and put him on a performance improvement plan. Then Lawrence was fired and he sued.

The employer argued the case should be dismissed because Lawrence signed an employment application that specifically stated: “I agree that any claim or lawsuit related to my service with Raymour and Flanigan Furniture must be filed no more than six (6) months after the date of the employment action that is the subject of the claim or lawsuit. I waive any statute of limitations to the contrary.”

The court agreed that the clause barred Lawrence’s NYSHRL claims, but not his federal ADA and age discrimination claims. (Friedmann v. Raymour Furniture, No. CV-12-1307, ED NY, 2012)

Advice: Get your attorney’s help when drafting lawsuit-limitation clauses.

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