California proposes extension of statute of limitations

workplace discrimination lawyer

The California Assembly Bill 9 (AB 9), which passed assembly and is now being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary, seeks to protect workers in the state who were harassed or discriminated against at their job by expanding existing law.

It is unlawful under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act for an employer to discriminate against or to harass employees for their sex, race, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, health or disability as well as other characteristics. If a person feels that their employer has violated this law, a claim must be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year of the last unlawful incident. For many, this is the date of their termination or resignation from employment.

The proposed Assembly Bill 9 would triple that statute of limitations period, giving workers three years from the last incident to file a claim. It would only apply to claims made going forward and not allow an extension for cases that have already expired.

This change is not without controversy. Although AB 9 would allow more victims of workplace discrimination or harassment to file their claims and hold employers more accountable for their actions, some say that it would create administrative issues.

Some employers do not keep employee files after employment is ended for three years. An overhaul of record keeping systems would be in order and this especially applies to those who use seasonal or transitory workers.

In addition, those in opposition say that it would be more difficult to investigate and prove claims of harassment or discrimination because time may blur a clear recollection of the events in question and may make reliable witnesses hard to find.

AB 9 would also require employers to be especially thorough in documenting these incidents and complaints. It was sponsored by Assembly Members Eloise Reyes, Laura Friedman and Marie Waldron.