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NY Education Law gives school employees just one year to sue for discrimination

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in Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Maternity Leave Laws,Performance Reviews

Good news for public school employers: Employees who allege they have been discriminated against under the New York Executive Law have just one year to start litigation—as specified in the New York Education Law. Most other employees have three years to mull over their lawsuit options.

Recent case: Jennifer Amorosi worked as a nontenured school counselor for the South Colonie Independent Central School District. She started working in January 2001. Counselors serve a three-year probationary period, after which the school district decides whether to grant tenure.

During her probationary period, Amorosi gave birth to two children, taking about six months of maternity leave each time. When she returned after the second birth, her performance evaluations fell. She then was asked to resign.

Later, she read an article in a local newspaper that claimed the school district regularly discriminated against pregnant teachers. More than a year after being asked to resign, Amorosi sued under the New York Executive Law, which provides three years for employees to bring discrimination complaints.

The school district asked that the case be dismissed because a provision in the New York Education Law said discrimination claims have to be made within one year.

The New York Court of Appeals agreed and dismissed Amorosi’s case. It reasoned that the Education Law was clear, and that any discrepancy between it and the Executive Law had to be taken up with the New York Legislature. (Amorosi v. South Colonie Independent Central School District, No. 167, New York Court of Appeals, 2007) 

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