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EEOC Suspends Right-To-Sue Notices, But Workers’ Claims May Still Expire

On April 7, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it had temporarily stopped issuing right-to-sue notices to workers, effectively extending the deadline for many to sue their employers for bias, harassment or discrimination.  The notices – usually issued immediately after the agency has investigated and found reasonable evidence of an employer’s misconduct – provide a strict 90-day window for workers to file complaints in federal court.

The move comes amidst dual public health and economic crises that have left many workers reeling from layoffs, furlough, pay-cuts, and illness.  Due to the havoc wrought by the pandemic, many advocates feared that workers who received right-to-sue notices would lack the time and financial resources necessary to file suit within the required 90 days.

Under the newly announced suspension, most individuals who have filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC will not receive right-to-sue notices for the foreseeable future, even if the EEOC has completed its investigation of their claims.  Instead, the EEOC plans to hold these notices until workers can pursue their claims without the added stress caused by COVID-19.  However, workers seeking to file more immediate lawsuits may request that the EEOC release their right-to-sue notices sooner.

Importantly, however, workers who have not yet filed charges with the EEOC are still at risk of losing their claims if they do not act in a timely manner.  Under federal law, workers must file charges against their employer with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discrimination, or within 300 days if their state has similar non-discrimination laws.  As the EEOC is unable to extend these deadlines, workers subjected to discrimination in the workplace should file EEOC charges as soon as possible to ensure that their claims do not expire.

The EEOC’s suspension of future right-to-sue notices also fails to preserve the claims of workers who have already received these notices.  For these individuals, the 90-day clock to file a complaint in federal court has already started, and they must move quickly to avoid losing their right to legal recourse.

If you have been harassed or discriminated against in the workplace and need legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@mcolaw.com or (212) 433-3456.  We are fully operational and available to assist you remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

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