In a lot of walks of life, some people like to say that “timing is everything.” If you’ve endured employment discrimination in Georgia, timing isn’t everything when it comes to succeeding in a civil action, but it may be the only thing that matters if you fail to meet the law’s filing deadlines. The crucial importance of timely filings — and the catastrophic havoc missed deadlines can create — are just further evidence of why, if you’re the victim of age discrimination at work, you need to ensure you retain the services of a skilled Atlanta age discrimination lawyer right away.
In most discrimination cases, one of your first deadlines is the one for filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As one recent age discrimination case from here in North Georgia illustrates, missing this deadline can be devastating to your case.
The time period for filing this EEOC charge varies by state. For most types of discrimination claims, the deadline is 300 days if the state has its own fair employment practices agency (or a local agency) that enforces state/local laws prohibiting that type of discrimination. These kinds of states are called “deferral states.”
For states that do not have these kinds of agencies — a/k/a non-deferral states — the deadline is much shorter, at 180 days. Georgia is a non-deferral state, meaning that a worker has only 180 days to file an EEOC charge.
It’s additionally important to point out that the rules for age discrimination operate a bit differently from other types of discrimination. In age discrimination, only the existence of a state law and a state agency triggers deferral status and the longer, 300-day deadline. (Local laws and agencies alone are not enough.)
The consequences of missing this filing deadline often are dire. If a worker misses the EEOC filing deadline, the law generally will completely bar that worker from pursuing a civil claim for violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
When the ‘Clock’ Starts Running for Purposes of Your EEOC Filing Deadline
Of course, with any filing deadline, it is essential to know when the “clock” starts running. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that the time period doesn’t start until the worker “receives unequivocal notice of an adverse employment decision.”
There are certain situations where a worker can proceed even if he/she missed the EEOC filing deadline, but those are rare and require the worker to show “extraordinary circumstances,” which is limited to things like “fraud, misinformation, or deliberate concealment.”
In the recent Georgia case, the employer notified the worker on April 10, 2018, that the employer intended to terminate him. That April 10 date, therefore, constituted the date that the worker received notice of an adverse action. 180 days from that April 10 date was October 8. The worker filed his EEOC charge on October 22, 2018. That made the filing untimely and made the employer eligible for summary judgment on the worker’s age discrimination claims.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “time is of the essence.” When you have been harmed by age discrimination at work, acting with all due haste indeed can be essential to your eventual success. One of your first steps should be retaining the right legal counsel. The experienced and diligent Atlanta age discrimination attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert are here to help. We’ve successfully represented countless workers around Georgia in age discrimination actions, and we’re eager to discuss how we can assist you. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation.