We all know the drill: File the DFEH complaint within one year after the alleged unlawful conduct occurred. Then you have one year from the date of the Right-to-Sue letter in which to file a lawsuit.
This gets complicated for attorneys if you have a client who filed multiple DFEH complaints covering different allegations and received multiple RTS letters. Then throw into the mix the doctrines of equitable tolling and continuing violations and the limitations issues become a real mess.
Over a two-year period, Esperanza Acuna filed three different DFEH complaints against her employer, San Diego Gas & Electric Company alleging racial discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation. She eventually filed a lawsuit and defendants demurred alleging Acuna’s case was barred by the statute of limitations.
The trial court sustained defendant’s demurrer and Acuna appealed. The Court of Appeals concluded that the retaliation claim was not barred by limitations but the other FEHA causes of action were barred.
I won’t bore you with all of the details here, but the lesson here is simple — and that is to keep everything simple. That means holding off on multiple complaints, if possible, and if multiple complaints are necessary, to keep track of all deadlines!
Acuna v. San Diego Gas & Elec. Co., 217 Cal. App. 4th 1402 (2013).