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New York Court Explains Continuing Violations in Employment Claims

September 15, 2020

Employment discrimination claims, like most other claims, are subject to a statute of limitations. In other words, they must be filed within the time prescribed under the law, or a person risks waiving the right to recover damages. There are some exceptions that will allow a plaintiff to file a lawsuit outside of the strict time constraints, though, such as in cases involving continuing violations. Recently, a New York court discussed what behavior may constitute a continuing violation in an employment discrimination case, thereby allowing a plaintiff to pursue claims at a later date. If you were subject to discrimination in the workplace, you may be owed damages, and it is important to seek the counsel of a trusted New York employment discrimination attorney promptly to avoid losing the right to pursue compensation.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was employed as a correctional officer for the defendant city. He alleges that during his employment, he was targeted and singled out because of his race, and ultimately terminated. As such, he filed a lawsuit against the defendant city and several of its employees, asserting claims of discrimination based on race in violation of Title VII and the New York State and City Human Rights laws, as well as claims of a hostile work environment and wrongful termination. The defendants filed motions to dismiss, arguing in part that some of the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff objected to the motions, arguing that the harm alleged constituted continuing violations.

Claims of Continuing Employment Discrimination

Plaintiff’s complaint alleged retaliation and discrimination in violation of Title VII. Pursuant to the existing law, such claims must be filed within three hundred days of the alleged unlawful behavior. An exception exists, however, for acts that constitute a continuing violation. In other words, for claims arising out of behavior that was part of a continued practice and policy of engaging in discriminatory behavior, which may be present in cases involving discriminatory mechanisms or specific practices.

In the subject case, the plaintiff asserted that the adverse actions taken against him were all reasonably and sufficiently related to as to meet the continuing violation exception to the rule regarding timely filing of Title VII claims. Conversely, the defendants argued that discrete acts such as disciplinary actions and assigning the plaintiff to a certain job were not undertaken pursuant to a policy or mechanism and therefore did not constitute continuing violations. The court ultimately agreed with the defendant, finding that singular acts could not form the basis of the continuing violation claim. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s Title VII claims.

Meet With a Seasoned New York Attorney

If you were the victim of discriminatory acts by your employer or coworkers, you have the right to seek damages and should act as quickly as possible. The seasoned New York employment discrimination attorneys of Gerstman Schwartz LLP are adept at helping employees pursue justice via civil lawsuits, and if you retain our services, we will work diligently to help you seek a fair outcome. We can be contacted at our office in Manhattan at (212) 227-7070, at our office in Garden City at (516) 880-8170, or via our form online to set up a meeting.

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