Employment Law: Sexual Harassment Statute of Limitations in California

The sexual harassment statute of limitations in California is that a victim must file a charge of discrimination with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within ONE YEAR from the date of the last incident of sexual harassment. The victim then has the option to ask the DFEH to investigate the claim or to immediately receive a right to sue letter. The right to sue letter from the DFEH advises the victim that they have an additional one year from the date of the right to sue letter to file a complaint in the California Superior Court for sexual harassment against the perpetrator and/or the responsible employer.

A victim also has the DSCN2344option of filing a charge of discrimination first with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but the sexual harassment statue of limitations in California for filing for charge with the EEOC are shorter than for the right to sue letter from the DFEH. For the EEOC, a victim has 180 DAYS from the date of the last incident to file a charge of discrimination. The time is extended to 300 days from the date of the last incident or 30 days after receiving notice of a case closure from the DFEH, if the victim also files a parallel claim of discrimination with the DFEH.

California Government Code Section 12960(d) sets forth some exceptions for the extension of the one year statute of limitations in California for filing a claim of discrimination with the DFEH.

There is some case law that gives relief to victims who attempt to file a claim of discrimination with the EEOC, but the claim is not completed. Case law allows some liberality in construing an attempt to file a claim with the EEOC as sufficient to comply with the sexual harassment statute of limitations in California for someone who has made an effort, but the effort was unsuccessful, particularly due to the EEOC failing to complete the in-take process.