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New York Court Discusses Timeliness of Hostile Work Environment Claim

July 15, 2020

It is not uncommon for ongoing discriminatory acts in the workplace to create a hostile work environment. As such, the law allows for people subject to a hostile work environment to file claims against their employer. Hostile work environment claims must be filed within a certain timeframe, or they will be dismissed, however, as shown in a recent New York case. If you are subject to a hostile work environment because of discrimination, it is prudent to consult a dedicated New York employment discrimination attorney as soon as possible to avoid waiving your right to recover damages.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff worked as a pathologist at the defendant cancer research company. For approximately eighteen months, she was subjected to discrimination in pay as compared to her male colleagues, and discrimination in assignments due to the fact that she was a woman and was Chinese. She also experienced verbal abuse that constituted a hostile work environment. After she exhausted her administrative remedies, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging close to twenty different claims against multiple defendants, including numerous hostile work environment claims. The defendants then jointly filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing in part that the plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims should be dismissed as untimely.

Timeliness of a Hostile Work Environment Claim

Under Title VII, a single discriminatory or retaliatory act occurs on the date that it happens. Therefore, a plaintiff must file a claim within either one hundred and eighty days or three hundred days of the date of the act, or the plaintiff will lose the right to recover damages. Regarding hostile work environment claims, the provision of Title VII that requires a plaintiff to file a claim in a timely manner only requires a plaintiff to file a claim within a specific number of days after the unlawful behavior occurred. It does not matter under the statute, however, that some of the acts of the hostile work environment fell outside of the time period under the statute.

In other words, if an act contributing to the claim occurred within the appropriate time period, the entire time the plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work environment may be considered for purposes of determining liability. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff had set forth hostile work environment claims that occurred during the three-hundred-day time period provided for under the statute. As such, the court found that the plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims were timely, and denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss those claims.

Meet With an Experienced New York Attorney

If you were the victim of a hostile work environment, you may be owed compensation and should speak to an attorney regarding your rights. The experienced hostile work environment attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP are skilled at helping workers harmed by discrimination in the pursuit of damages, and we will work tirelessly to help you seek a just outcome. We have a Manhattan office where you can reach us by calling (212) 227-7070 and a Garden City office where you can reach us by calling (516) 880-8170. We can also be contacted through our form online to set up a conference.

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