Is There a Statute of Limitations for Sexual Harassment Claims in CA?
As a sexual assault survivor, it is natural to struggle with coming forward. This is common among survivors of sexual harassment, discrimination, assault and violence. Unfortunately, federal and state laws place a time limit on your right to bring a claim, pushing you to file before it is too late. The legal term for this time limit is a statute of limitations.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a law that bars an injured party, or plaintiff, from filing a claim after the passing of a set time limit. These time limits vary by state and claim type. In California, for example, the statute of limitations on a standard personal injury claim is two years past the date of the accident. This statute varies depending on the type of offense. Different statutes of limitations exist for civil versus criminal claims.
Some federal organizations have passed statutes of limitations on certain sexual assault and harassment claims. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) places statutes of limitations on workplace sexual harassment claims, for example. While state laws may affect this timeline, in general, claimants have 180 calendar days from the last incident of sexual harassment or discrimination to bring their causes of action. This deadline may extend to 300 days if your state has a law against harassment or discrimination on the same grounds.
California Law: Assembly Bill 1619
A new law as of 2019 changed the statute of limitations for sexual assault survivors in California. Assembly Bill 1619 extended the time limit on plaintiffs filing sexual assault claims from 2 years to 10 years. The bill passed through the California State Assembly with a unanimous vote after movements such as Time’s Up and #MeToo put pressure on the legislature to revise related laws to make them fairer for plaintiffs. AB 1619 allows sexual assault survivors who may have previously surpassed their statutes of limitations to now file.
Under the new law, survivors have 10 years from the date of the last incident of sexual assault or violence to file claims against their perpetrators. In addition, California plaintiffs have three years from the date of injury discovery, if this differs from the last known date of sexual assault. If, for example, an adult discovers his or her current mental health condition comes from a suppressed incident of sexual violence as a child, the adult would have three years from the discovery of this connection to bring a civil claim.
Get Help from a Sexual Harassment Attorney
It is in your best interest to initiate your cause of action for sexual harassment as soon as possible in California. Waiting could put you at risk of missing your federal or state statute of limitations. The federal and state courts take statutes of limitations very seriously. If you try to file past the expiration of your time limit, the courts will most likely dismiss your case. You will lose the right to pursue compensation, even if you have proof of sexual harassment and discrimination. If the courts do not prevent your claim, the defendant could use the expired time limit as a defense to liability. While certain exceptions to the rule exist, the courts stand firm on sexual harassment statutes of limitations in most cases.
Contacting a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can enable you to file your claim before the deadline. In the beginning, a lawyer can review your case to confirm the precise date your statute of limitations expires. Then, if you hire the lawyer, he or she can take over the claims process on your behalf to make it as fast and efficient as possible. A sexual harassment attorney will be well-versed in California’s statute of limitations as well as other time limits that may apply to your case. Your lawyer will be in the best position to provide the proper advice on how and when to bring your claim.