I have documentation of harassment, retaliation, pay cut, and discrimination that occurred continuously for five years and now that i have the eeoc right to sue letter I would like to know how far back my (not yet hired attorneys) can bring up events. I have witnesses, documents, emails, notes of times and dates what was said, etc.....
This is a complicated area of the law. Of course, your attorney will have to be very familiar with this part of the law, and he or she will be able to give far better advice than any general statement of law you can get off this site. Nonetheless, I will give you an overview of how it works.
First let me tell you that I am assuming for this answer that you will file the lawsuit in state court under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and not under the federal Title VII. You can do so even if you filed your complaint with the EEOC. This is very important for many reasons.
As to going back in time, under FEHA you are allowed to go back one year from the date you filed the complaint with the administrative agency and seek damages for all wrongful conduct during that one year period.
You can present evidence of events that occurred prior to that one year period to provide context and allow the jury to understand your actions within that year period so long as it is not considered by the judge to be to prejudicial.
You can seek damages for conduct that occurred prior to the one year period if you can establish a "continuing violation." This is the complex part of this, so I am going to try to state it in simple terms. In essence, the continuing violation doctrine allows you to seek damages for events that occur prior to the one year if you can prove that the prior conduct was the same or similar kind of conduct, and that nothing happened during the earlier period of time that would have caused a reasonable employee to believe that the employer will do nothing further to assist the employee, leaving the only real option the filing of an administrative complaint with the DFEH or EEOC.
The continuing violation doctrine is factually driven and only your attorney who is aware of all of the facts can really advise you as to whether or not you can go back five years. However, it is possible. In some cases I have been able to go back that far, but the facts and circumstances have to be just right.
A warning: You have only 90 days to file a complaint after getting the EEOC right to sue letter or you lose significant rights. Do not wait to the last minute to find a lawyer, as it may take you time to find the lawyer you want, and it will take the lawyer time to intake your matter, get up to speed and file a complaint. Please hurry.
I wish you the best of luck.
Pedersen Heck McQueen, APLC is an employee rights law firm assisting employees in all Southern California counties.
This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.
The answer to this is, "it depends." You may only be able to go back one year for damages if this is a California Fair Employment and Housing Act case. However, if you can show a "continuing violation," then you may be able to obtain damages going back to previous years. Even if you cannot obtain more than one year of damages, the background facts in your case would be relevant to the employer's liability. You need to contact an attorney as soon as possible so that individual will have time to become familiar with your case before the filing deadline dictated by your right to sue letter.
LAW OFFICE OF PAMELA PITT
There is no time limit on how far back you can go in bringing up facts that are relevant to your current discrimination/retaliation allegations. Of course, you should be aware that overreaching and throwing in more than necessary might backfire by hurting your credibility and questioning your allegations more than they otherwise would be. A good employment attorney which facts to use in your case and which to keep out.
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