New Bill Would Extend Time for Filing Employment Lawsuits

May 15, 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced legislation that would allow workers to file claims under various federal employment laws that arise during the crisis until 90 days after the pandemic is no longer considered a public health emergency.

Federal labor and employment laws give workers various amounts of time to file lawsuits or bring complaints that range from weeks to years after an alleged violation or triggering event occurred.  For example, Title VII generally allows workers 180 days from the latest violation to file discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Emergency Limitation Periods Extensions for Workers Act would extend the time to file complaints to "the 90th day after the last day of the COVID-19 public health emergency period," plus the duration of any overlap with a COVID–19 public health emergency period and a limitations period.  That would mean an employee who had 60 days left to file an EEOC charge when COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency in January 2020 would have 150 days to file when the pandemic is declared over.

The bill would apply to a variety of laws including:

  • The Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act;
  • The National Labor Relations Act;
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII);
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act; and 
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act. 

The forecast:  While the bill has no chance of being enacted this year, depending on the November election results something similar could be introduced in 2021.