The clock is ticking: Note exact date employee learned of termination decision

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

Former employees have deadlines for filing complaints over their termination or other employment discrimination claims. In most cases, they have to act within 300 days. Missing the deadline means they ­forever lose the right to sue.

Many assume that the clock starts ticking on their last day of work. That’s not necessarily true. If, for example, an employer tells the em­­ployee he will lose his job effective on a later date, the clock starts when the employee is informed, not on his last day. That’s true even if your organization has a grievance program that allows the employee to challenge the decision.

Recent case: Stuart worked as a New York City corrections officer for many years. When he developed diabetes, he began missing work. The city notified him that it was terminating him for excessive absences.

Stuart filed a grievance. Then he retired after being informed that he would not receive health benefits or pension payments while the grievance was still active. That process could take a year. He filed an EEOC complaint alleging ADA violations within 300 days of his official retirement, but more than 300 days after he was informed he would be ter­minated.

The court said the date that counted was when he first was in­­formed of his pending discharge, not when he last worked or when he retired. (Cohen v. City of New York, et al., No. 12-CV-1932, ED NY, 2013)

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