Prior to filing an employment discrimination lawsuit, an employee who is employed in Pennsylvania must file a Charge of Discrimination within 300 days of the discriminatory event in question with the EEOC or 180 days with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. When an employee is not aware of this requirement, major issues can arise and some or all instances of discrimination may be excluded. However, there is an exception to this law under the continuing violation doctrine which permits an employee to seek relief for unlawful acts that are alleged to have taken place prior to the commencement of the 300 day limitations period. An act that falls outside the 300 day period may be deemed timely if a plaintiff employee shows that (1) it is part of an ongoing practice or pattern of discrimination by defendant, and (2) the last act evidencing the continuing practice falls within the limitations period. This doctrine allows allegedly discriminatory acts that are not actionable individually to be aggregated to make out a discrimination claim. The employee must establish that the harassment is more than the occurrence of isolated or sporadic acts of intentional discrimination and instead a persistent, ongoing pattern.
In Trelenberg v. 21st Century Insurance , 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106113 (E. D. Pa. July 30, 2013)(O’Neill, J.), the Plaintiff contended an ongoing pattern of discrimination persisted throughout the entire four years of her employment and alleged specific facts to substantiate it, including the dates of alleged discrimination, the nature of the alleged discrimination and the identity of the actors. The court noted that specificity in reporting alleged discrimination is critical in distinguishing a continuous on-going pattern from isolated sporadic acts and found that plaintiff’s allegations created an inference that the discriminatory conduct alleged by the plaintiff is more than the occurrence of isolated or sporadic acts of discrimination, which was sufficient to allow the employee to invoke the continuing violation doctrine so that her claims withstood a motion to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds.
As demonstrated by the Court’s decision in Trelenberg, it is essential that when discriminatory conduct occurs outside the 300 day filing period, a Plaintiff employee must plead with as much specificity as possible discriminatory acts which fall outside the 300 day period by including specific description of incidents, dates on which the incidents occurred and the identity of the persons engaging in discriminatory conduct. When an employee is able to do so, a court will have a basis for applying the continuing violation doctrine which will greatly expand the evidence which an employee can rely on in an employment discrimination case.
For more information about employment discrimination and Abramson Employment Law see http://www.job-discrimination.com/lawyer-attorney-2119248.html