Generally, employees don’t have long to get the litigation ball rolling if they want to complain about discrimination. In most cases, they must file a complaint with the EEOC or a state agency within 300 days of an alleged discriminatory act.
However, employees often have lots more leeway if they are claiming they had to work in a hostile environment characterized by repeated slurs or other harassing behavior.
Recent case: Bradford worked for a law firm that specializes in debt collection. He quit his job after an unwanted transfer put him in charge of a territory that allegedly had less potential for him to earn commission income.
Then he sued, alleging that over the years he had worked for the firm, he had been subjected to various racial slurs in the workplace, such as “monkey” and “jungle monkey.” He said he often heard firm employees use the term “nigga” in his presence. On one Ash Wednesday, Bradford said, someone commented to him, “You’re so black, I can’t see the ashes on your forehead.”
The law firm tried to argue that the comments weren’t admissible for the purpose of showing a hostile environment because they occurred long before Bradford’s deadline to file a discrimination complaint.
The court didn’t buy the firm’s argument.
It said a series of racially charged comments may indicate a pattern of race discrimination and hostility, with each incident adding to the hostile environment. The court said that potentially added up to a continuing violation. It gave the go-ahead for Bradford’s case to proceed. (Kimble v. Rubin & Rothman, et al., No. 13-4792, ED NY, 2015)