It takes a lot to succeed in a New Jersey discrimination lawsuit. You need proof you were a member of protected class (race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, etc.), evidence that you suffered harm at work (termination, demotion, change of job duties, reduction in hours, reduction in pay, etc.) based on that membership and proof that any legitimate reason the employer gave for its action was really just a pretext for discrimination.
But you can have all that and still lose. In fact, you can have all that and never even get your day in court. How? Procedural errors, which can include things like filing too late, after the deadline has passed. Make a mistake like this and your case may be dismissed without any of your factual evidence ever getting before a court. This is one reason among countless ones why it pays to have an experienced and diligent New Jersey discrimination attorney on your side.
The limitations period for filing a discrimination lawsuit in New Jersey is two years. There are many reasons why you may need to wait to file until very near the deadline. When you’ve filed close to the deadline, your skilled counsel can help you overcome arguments by the defense that your filing was tardy when it was actually on time.
There are many different scenarios where this can come up. Many times, it involves disputes about when the two-year statute-of-limitations time period started, and therefore when it ended. Earlier this year, as discussed in this blog, a college employee sued for discrimination and the employer argued that the employee filed her lawsuit too late. The employer notified the woman of her impending downsizing in January 2015. She continued to receive her regular pay, however, until the end of that June. She sued on June 29, 2017.
The employer tried to argue that the limitations period ended in January 2017, two years after it notified the employee of her job’s impending elimination. The Appellate Division, however, confirmed that the time period only started after the employer stopped paying the woman, meaning that the time “clock” started running on July 1, 2015, and her June 29, 2017 lawsuit filing was not too late.
How something called a ‘continuing violation’ can help your case
If you are the victim of harassment at work, you may be entitled to use something called the “continuing violation doctrine” to give yourself more time to file. Back in 2010, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that said that if you experience a “continual, cumulative pattern” of wrongful conduct, then the two-year time period for filing doesn’t start running out until the wrongful conduct ended.
So if, for example, you suffered pervasive harassment that created a hostile work environment and that harassment went on for an extended period of time, you may have two years from the date the harassment ended in which to file your lawsuit, which could greatly extend the window of time that you have for filing.
All of these calculations of limitations periods and starting dates and ending dates are a reminder that your employment discrimination case can come with many small, but extremely important, details and nuances. Your best chance for success comes with having legal counsel who knows clearly all of the “ins” and “outs” of the law. The knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates are here to help, having handled a wide array of employment discrimination cases, including race, sex, disability and others. Contact us online or call (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out our diligent attorneys can help you.