July 19, 2019

Case Law: State Agency Notice Does Not Trigger Limitation Period for Filing Federal Discrimination Action

When does a plaintiff’s 90 days to file a federal discrimination lawsuit run out? Today, the Tenth Circuit issued an opinion (.pdf) on the subject.

In employment discrimination cases, once a notice of right to sue has been issued by the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), plaintiffs have 90 days to file suit. The CCRD and EEOC have a worksharing agreement so that a charge filed with one agency is also considered filed at the other agency. How that worksharing agreement affects the 90-day limitation period for filing suit was recently decided by the Tenth Circuit.

In Rodriguez v. Wet Ink (.pdf), LLC, No. 08-1313 (10th Cir. April 26, 2010), the plaintiff had received a notice of right to sue from the CCRD. She later received a notice of right to sue from the EEOC and filed suit within 90 days of the EEOC notice, but after the expiration of the CCRD notice. The district court dismissed her suit on the basis that it was time barred as she had not filed within 90 days of the CCRD notice.

The Tenth Circuit reversed the dismissal and held that the state agency notice does not trigger the 90-day limitation period for filing a federal action. Only the EEOC can issue a notice of right to sue that triggers the 90-day limit for filing a federal action.