Sexual Harassment Statute of Limitations in California

If you suffer from sexual harassment in California, it is essential to review your legal rights and options with an attorney as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk missing your statute of limitations – the legal deadline on your right to file a sexual harassment claim in California. Statutes of limitations are different from state to state. In California, the rules are confusing and constantly changing. The best way to make sure you meet your time limit is by contacting an attorney without delay.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that places a deadline on claims filing. There are civil and criminal statutes of limitations connected to sexual harassment, abuse and assault. If you wish to file a sexual harassment claim in pursuit of financial compensation for your losses and expenses from the harasser or an employer, your case will deal with California’s civil statute of limitations. Filing criminal charges against your harasser, on the other hand, will involve the criminal statute of limitations.

Three-Year Deadline for Sexual Harassment Complaints in California

Currently, you have three years to file a complaint alleging sexual harassment or discrimination in California. This is the statute of limitations under Assembly Bill No. 9, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The clock starts ticking on the date of the last sexual harassment incident you experienced. Three years is the maximum amount of time that you have to file your sexual harassment complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH). This is the government agency in charge of investigating and resolving workplace sexual harassment claims.

Shorter Deadline at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If you wish to file a sexual harassment complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you will have less than California’s statute of limitations of three years to do so. The federal statute of limitations is 180 days, in most cases. Again, this deadline begins on the date of the last act of sexual harassment. If you are simultaneously filing with both the EEOC and the DFEH, the EEOC extends its statute of limitations to 300 days.

Longer Deadlines for Sexual Assault and Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual harassment cases in California have shorter statutes of limitations than sexual assault and child sexual abuse cases. If you have a case involving adult sexual abuse, you have 10 years from the date of the crime to file a civil lawsuit against your attacker or a third party, such as an institution. However, a survivor of child sexual abuse has until age 40 to file a civil claim or 5 years from discovering that a mental health condition is connected to child sexual abuse – whichever comes later.

California’s Statute of Limitations on Sexual Harassment Claims Was Recently Extended

Before the passing of AB-9, state law in California gave sexual harassment victims just one year to file claims with the DFEH. This is significant as AB-9 states that it should not be interpreted to revive lapsed claims. This means that if the last act of sexual harassment in your particular case occurred before January 2020, it is in your best interest to treat it as if you have one year to file a complaint with the DFEH. This means that you may have already missed your deadline. It is essential, however, to consult with an attorney before assuming that your deadline has passed. An exception to the rule may apply to your case.

Contact a Sexual Harassment Lawyer as Soon as Possible in California

California has some of the most favorable statutes of limitations for sexual harassment and assault survivors in the United States. This does not mean, however, that you should wait to contact an attorney about a possible claim. For the most part, a claimant who misses the statute of limitations is unable to proceed with a civil lawsuit. The courts will refuse to hear a case brought after the deadline has passed. This makes it critical to speak to a sexual harassment lawyer and take legal action right away to protect your rights. Request your free consultation with an attorney at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi to discuss your rights today.