The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life in California and across the country. Many California courts are, essentially, closed and injured individuals and wronged employees are left wondering how they will be able to access justice in the coming months.
In light of this, California courts have issued orders attempting to respond to coronavius. On April 6, the Judicial Council approved 11 Emergency Rules to ensure California courts can comply with government restrictions designed to protect the public health and safety during the pandemic while protecting the constitutional due process rights of parties in both criminal and civil proceedings. For employment law cases, the one that makes the biggest impact is the tolling of the statute of limitations.
What is a statute of limitations?
Legally speaking, a “statute of limitations”, or limitations period, is the amount of time an individual has to bring a lawsuit. A plaintiff who does not file suit within that time generally loses the legal right to recover damages.
The statute of limitations in a California employment law case varies by the nature of the claim. It generally starts to run when the employee knows – or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known – of the legal violation.
In most cases, the statute of limitations for employment law claims are as follows:
- Union employee – six (6) months to file a claim that your employer breached your Collective Bargaining Agreement and that your union breached its duty to fairly represent you.
- Harassment, discrimination, or retaliation – one (1) year from the date that you’ve been harassed, discriminated or retaliated against to file an administrative complaint of discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and only one (1) year from your Right to Sue Notice from that Department to file a discrimination, harassment or retaliation lawsuit.
- Wrongful termination or retaliation – two (2) years to file most claims for wrongful termination or retaliation
- Breach of oral contract – two (2) years to sue for breach of an oral contract
- Outrageous workplace conduct – two (2) years to file a claim accusing your employer of outrageous workplace conduct aimed at causing you emotional distress.
- Failure to pay wages or overtime – three (3) years to file claims for your employer’s failure to pay you the wages or overtime you were legally entitled to
- Fraud – three (3) years to sue for fraud
- Breach of written employment contract – four (4) years to sue for breach of a written employment contract.
There are numerous exceptions to these timelines and an experienced employment attorney will be able to address them with you. Indeed, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the statute of limitations on many California cases has been tolled, or suspended.
Statute of Limitations in California Under COVID-19
Under Emergency Rule 9, the statutes of limitation for all civil causes of action will be tolled from April 6, 2020, to 90 days after the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted.
If you believe your employer has treated you unfairly, the time to act on your legal claim and protect your potential for financial recovery is now. To discuss your potential employment case, contact attorney Eric A. Boyajian today.