When it comes to legal matters, such as an Atlanta employment discrimination lawsuit, time is of the essence. When a claim is not filed within the time allowed by law, it will, in all likelihood, be dismissed by the court.
While there are a limited number of circumstances in which an exception may be made, such cases are few and far between. If you believe that you have a possible claim of employment discrimination, it is very important that you contact an attorney who can help you with your claim so that you do not lose the right to seek legal redress from your employer (or former employer, potential employer, etc.).
Facts of the Case
In a recent case, the plaintiff was a former employee of the defendant hospital. In his employment discrimination lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that he had been subjected to discrimination because of his race and his age. He sought legal redress under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (Title VII), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 to 634 (ADEA). The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s cause of action because he had not alleged that he filed suit within 90 days after receiving his right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Decision of the Court
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Columbus Division, granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit. In order to seek relief under Title VII or the ADEA, a plaintiff must first exhaust his or her administrative remedies. Typically, this involves filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, the agency that, according to law, should have the first opportunity to investigate an alleged act of employment discrimination. This is so that the EEOC can perform its role of obtaining voluntary compliance and promoting conciliation efforts when possible. Regardless of whether the EEOC dismisses the plaintiff’s charge or terminates its proceedings in some other manner, the plaintiff is sent a notice when the EEOC’s review of the case is complete. Often called a “right-to-sue letter,” the EEOC’s notice triggers the beginning of a 90-day window for the filing of a lawsuit.
Here, the plaintiff did not dispute that he received a right-to-sue letter or that he failed to file his complaint within 90 days, as required by law. Noting that the plaintiff had chosen to represent himself in the litigation, the court found that his only excuse was that “it is not uncommon for people – especially those who haven’t retained a personal attorney – to miss deadlines.” Although the plaintiff urged the court to hold that his delay was based on “excusable neglect,” the court declined to do so. Equitable tolling is appropriate only when there are extraordinary circumstances beyond a party’s control; generally, a court will only toll the filing period for a discrimination claim when there has been fraud, misinformation, deliberate concealment, or similar circumstances that prevented the filing of a timely complaint. Since the plaintiff offered no explanation other than the one mentioned, the court found that his complaint should be dismissed as untimely.
Discuss Your Situation with an Experienced Atlanta Employment Law Attorney
No one should be subjected to unlawful discrimination in the workplace, but it happens on a regular basis. If you believe that your employer has discriminated against you based on your age, gender, race, national origin, religion, or disability, the first step to setting things right is to talk to an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer about your situation. To schedule an appointment with Attorney John L. Mays at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert, call 404-873-8048 and ask for a consultation.