Q. Today, I received notice of a discrimination claim from a former employee I fired 200 days ago. I thought my company was in the clear because employment discrimination complaints had to be filed within 180 days. I was surprised to hear from my HR department that the limitation period for filing the complaints can extend to 300 days. Is this true? And under what circumstances does the 300-day deadline apply?
A. In New Jersey, employees who charge workplace discrimination benefit from a federal law provision that allows a party 300 days after the alleged violation to file a complaint—when that violation is subject to challenge from the federal EEOC and local agencies. The 300-day period applies in New Jersey because the state authorizes its Division on Civil Rights (NJDCR) to prosecute discrimination claims.
The extended filing period in so-called “deferral states” (indicating federal deference to local enforcement) reflects a legislative intent to encourage local resolution of discrimination claims without unnecessary federal involvement. However, the claim need not be filed with a local agency. A work-sharing agreement between the EEOC and the NJDCR extends the 300-day filing period even to parties who complain directly to the federal agency.