Strict time limits are involved in employment discrimination cases, both in filing a charge of discrimination and in filing a lawsuit. This article describes these time limits and how they affect an employee’s discrimination claim.
What’s the Time Limit for Filing a Charge of Discrimination?
Employees in Nevada who believe their employer has illegally discriminated against them must file a charge of discrimination with either the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (“NERC”) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) before filing a lawsuit in court. This rule applies to claims involving discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, disability, age, and sex (including pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and gender identity). One exception to this rule is claims filed under the Equal Pay Act.
The EEOC typically requires an employee to file a charge of discrimination within 180 days of the date of discrimination; however, because NERC and the EEOC have a work-sharing agreement the deadline is extended to 300 days. Nevada law also imposes a 300-day time limit for filing charges of employment discrimination. Take note, however, that waiting more than 180 days can affect the claims an employee is allowed to bring under Nevada law (see below).
What’s the Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit?
After the EEOC or NERC investigates a charge of discrimination, an employee often has the option of filing a lawsuit against the employer. The employee must meet deadlines for filing a lawsuit; otherwise, the courts will dismiss the employee’s claims.
Under Nevada law, an employment discrimination lawsuit must be filed within 180 days of the date of discrimination. The 180 day deadline is tolled, meaning it’s paused, while NERC investigates a complaint. Note that the time limit is only 180 days, even though an employee has 300 days to file a charge of discrimination with NERC or the EEOC.
Because of this time discrepancy, an employee who waits more than 180 days to file a complaint with NERC or the EEOC can’t file a private lawsuit for violation of Nevada law after the agency investigates the complaint (see here, here, and here). The employee’s only chance for relief under Nevada law is if NERC chooses to file a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf, but this happens rarely. If NERC doesn’t file a lawsuit, then an employee can still file a lawsuit after 180 days under federal law, if federal law covers the type of discrimination alleged.
Under federal law, an employee must file a lawsuit within 90 days of receiving a “Notice of Right to Sue” from the EEOC. If the EEOC doesn’t issue a Notice of Right to Sue within 180 days of filing a charge of discrimination, then the employee can ask the EEOC to issue the Notice. For age discrimination cases, an employee can file a lawsuit any time after 60 days of filing a charge of discrimination, even without a Notice of Right to Sue.
In some cases, it can be unclear when the employee actually received a Notice of Right to Sue. The courts presume that the EEOC mails a Notice of Right to Sue on the date it’s issued, and that an employee receives the Notice within three days of when it’s mailed. These presumptions are rebuttable, meaning sufficient evidence can prove when a Notice was actually mailed or received.
What if More Than One Discriminatory Act Took Place?
An employee must file a charge of discrimination within the time limits for each separate act of discrimination. An exception exists for an employee who alleges ongoing harassment.