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July 22, 2014

Employers To Face More Concurrent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Tort Suits after Second Circuit Decision

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not toll the statute of limitations for state-law tort claims arising out of the same factual basis as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC charge. Castagna v. Luceno, No. 13-0796-cv, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 4241 (2d Cir. Mar. 5, 2014).

Background

Plaintiff, Patricia Castagna, filed an EEOC charge on October 21, 2008 alleging that her supervisor had created a hostile work environment and constructively discharged her on July 9, 2008. The EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter, and Castagna filed suit on November 9, 2009, alleging sex discrimination and a variety of intentional tort claims. Defendants moved to dismiss the tort claims, arguing that they were barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations. The district court granted the motion and Castagna appealed.

Holding

The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal, holding that filing an EEOC charge does not toll the limitations period for state-law tort claims arising out of the "same nucleus of facts" as the EEOC charge. In rejecting Plaintiff s argument that tolling is necessary to promote judicial efficiency, the Second Circuit relied on the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, Inc.,[1] which held that filing a discrimination charge with the EEOC does not toll the statute of limitations for a Section 1981 (42 U.S.C. § 1981) action premised on the same facts.

Implications

In Castagna, the Second Circuit joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, as well as other district courts, in holding that an EEOC charge does not toll the statute of limitations on a state-law tort claim. In light of this decision, it is likely that there will be an increase in concurrent filings of state-law tort claims by employees during the pendency of their Title VII federal administrative proceedings. Alternatively, in states and local jurisdictions having their own fair employment practices (FEP) statutes, plaintiffs increasingly may choose to bypass the EEOC entirely in order to assert all statutory and tort claims in a single proceeding in state court. 


[1] 421 U.S. 454 (1975).

© 2014 Proskauer Rose LLP.

About the Author

Keisha-Ann G Gray, Employment Litigation Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law firm
Partner

Keisha-Ann G. Gray is a Partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Practice Group. She is an experienced trial lawyer with a background in both the private and public sectors. Her practice focuses on civil law with an emphasis on employment discrimination work. Keisha-Ann counsels companies on complaint prevention and regularly litigates sexual harassment, race, age, gender and disability discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims before federal and state courts.

212-969-3855

About the Author

Steven D Hurd, Labor Employment Attorney, Proskauer Rose Law Firm
Partner

Steven D. Hurd is a Partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Practice Group and Media & Entertainment Industry Group.

212-969-3985
Kathleen M McKenna, Proskauer Law Firm, Employment Litigation Attorney
Partner

Kathleen M. McKenna is a Partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department. With a formidable track record for success in major employment matters, she has extensive experience litigating employment disputes of all types, including defending employers against claims alleging all forms of discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, wage and hour and breach of contract. Her clients include major multi-national businesses, such as television networks, pharmaceutical companies, international retailers and law firms.

212-969-3130

About the Author

Nigel F Telman, Labor Employment Attorney, Prosauker Law Firm
Partner

Nigel F. Telman leads the employment practice in the Chicago office and is co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group.

312-962-3548

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