Employees who learn they’re being terminated don’t have much time to file an EEOC complaint—in New York, no more than 300 days. But some employees think they have 300 days from their last day at work. That’s incorrect.
Instead, the clock starts ticking when the employee is first informed that she was losing her job. Smart employers track that exact date so late EEOC complaints can quickly be dismissed before needless legal expenses start piling up.
Recent case: Amrita, who is from Guyana, worked as an assistant professor at Long Island University. There, she helped develop an anti-plagiarism program, which became a centerpiece of her application for tenure.
Amrita was denied tenure and received a letter informing her that once her current contract expired, she would no longer have a job. She complained and worked out a deal whereby she might be considered for tenure again if she could convince the university that her anti-plagiarism program was enough of an educational innovation to warrant tenure. However, that effort failed and her contract wasn’t renewed.
She filed an EEOC discrimination complaint within 300 days of her last day at work.
The court tossed out Amrita’s case, ruling she waited too long to complain to the EEOC. It said the important date was the date she got the letter informing her she was not approved for tenure, not her last day at work. It didn’t matter that the university was willing to discuss a possible new application. (Madray v. Long Island University, No. 10-CV-3841, ED NY, 2012)
Final note: When you tell an employee she will lose her job, put it in writing. Make the notice clear and concise, leaving no doubt that the decision is final. Even if internal appeals are pending, the original date still counts.
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