Employers may think they’re off the hook if an employee doesn’t file a legal complaint on time. But filing requirements can sometimes be stretched, as a recent federal district court ruling shows.
The court allowed a nurse working for the Veterans Affairs Department to proceed with her discrimination case despite missing the filing deadline. The nurse, who is black, alleged that she suffered discrimination from the time she became a head nurse in 1997 at the VA’s Lyons facility. She claimed her supervisor took away her assistant while allowing white head nurses to keep their assistants.
In 2000, the nurse filed two complaints. When the VA rejected some of her claims for untimeliness, she filed a federal court complaint. The court allowed her claim under the “continuing-violation doctrine,” which permits late filing in cases of continual, long-term offenses.
Final note: The U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule on an important case regarding this doctrine. It will decide whether the continuing-violation doctrine allows employees who are long past the actual discriminatory event to sue because they’re still suffering consequences from it.