FEHA Limitations Period Cannot be Shortened by Agreement

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In Ellis v. U.S. Security Associates, a California Court of Appeal held that an employer’s attempt to shorten the one year statute of limitations to file a harassment claim under FEHA was against public policy and unenforceable.

Ellis was hired as a security guard for Security Associates, and as part of the hiring process, executed an employment application that stated that she must file any claim or lawsuits related to her service within six months of the employment action, and further required her to “waive any statute of limitations to the contrary.” When Ellis later filed a harassment claim and related claims against Security Associates, her former employer moved to dismiss the claim as being untimely pursuant to the six month limitation in the employment application (even though it was timely under FEHA’s one year statute of limitation).

The Court of Appeal determined that Security Associates’ attempt to limit the limitations period to six months for the FEHA claim was against public policy and could not be enforced, and permitted Ellis to pursue her claims. The Ellis decision emphasizes that courts generally disfavor attempts to limit the ability of individuals to pursue remedies under employment laws.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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