One of the most important elements of a lawsuit that you should be aware of, is the application of a statute of limitations to your claim. Statutes of limitations are, as the name suggests, the limitations applied to causes of action, i.e., the right to sue on some grievance. They vary in length, and once they “run,” or have expired, they work as an absolute ban on filing a lawsuit.
For federal workers there are additional rules that they must comply with when suing the federal government for a Title VII discrimination claim. A worker is required to file an administrative action first with their agency or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before they attempt to sue in a federal court.
In a recent case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the six-year statute of limitations for most lawsuits against the federal government was not applicable where parties were pursuing administrative action against an agency.
The federal courts are very busy, and Congress has shown a strong preference for encouraging employees to resolve their employment disputes, like discrimination claims, in administrative proceedings, and avoid the need to move to federal court.
In the case, the Commerce Department argued that the statute of limitations barred a federal court proceeding after six and a half years. The court of appeals disagreed, finding that Congress applied no time limit on a lawsuit, as long as there was an active administrative proceeding.
Statutes of limitation vary greatly, so when you become involved in a dispute, you should not delay speaking with an attorney, as they can help determine which statute of limitation applies to your situation, and ensure you do not wait too long before acting.
BNA.com, “Six-Year Limitations Period Doesn’t Apply In Federal Workers’ Title VII Suit, Court Rules,” Kevin McGowan, January 6, 2015