While it is always essential to make sure that a Charge of Discrimination is filed within 300 days of the discriminatory event in question under federal law and 180 days under Pennsylvania law, hostile work environment cases may include events outside the 300 day period. In Francis v. Atlas Machining & Welding, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20691 (E. D. Pa. February 15, 2013)(Stengel, J.), an African-American welder filed race discrimination claims against his former employer, alleging a hostile work environment and the constructive discharge of his employment. The Plaintiff presented evidence of repeated racial slurs and 2 hangman’s nooses in the workplace, and ultimately, after three years of employment, resigned because he felt extremely depressed and suffered panic attacks as a consequence of the treatment he received at the workplace.
In Francis, the Defendants argued that much of the offensive conduct was inadmissible because it occurred more than 300 days prior to the filing of the Plaintiff’s EEOC charge. The Court noted that while generally in a Title VII claim, all discriminatory acts that are alleged to have occurred more than 300 days prior to the EEOC filing are time-barred, hostile work environment claims are different. The Court relied upon a U. S. Supreme Court case, Nat’l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 117 (2002), quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000e- 5(e)(1), and held that “A hostile work environment claim is composed of a series of separate acts that collectively constitute one unlawful employment practice.” Id. Consequently, the Court held it does not matter that some of the component acts of the hostile work environment fall outside the statutory time period, provided that an act contributing to the claim occurs within the filing period, the entire time period of the hostile environment may be considered.
In Francis, the Court denied Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment and found that the Plaintiff has viable claims for a racially hostile work environment for which both the employer and supervisory employees could be liable, as well as the constructive discharge of employment, and the case can proceed to trial.
For more information on race discrimination and Abramson Employment Law see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-1126519.html