Search Site
Menu
7041 Koll Center Parkway, Suite 240 | Pleasanton, California 94566

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in an employment law case involving a federal employee who filed a discrimination lawsuit based on what he believed to be constructive discharge, or a discriminatory environment that forced him to resign. The allegations are similar to many such cases and likely will be very difficult for him to prove. However, the issue before the court is one that may not allow the employee’s story to even reach the ears of a jury.  Specifically, it is whether the plaintiff filed the charge of discrimination within the statutory 45-day limitations period. If not, the action may not proceed forward and the employee will not be able to seek recourse under the applicable law.

Statutes of Limitation

Typically, federal anti-discrimination laws provide employees with a 180-day period within which to file a complaint. However, federal employees have a different and much shorter standard. The 45-day period provided to federal employees (or applicants) begins tolling at the occurrence of the adverse action. That means, from the point at which the act of discrimination occurred, an employee or applicant has 45 days to file a complaint or it will be time barred.  Rather than filing a complaint with the EEOC, as occurs in the private sector, federal employees and applicants must file their complaints with the alleged discriminatory agency. This difference in procedure is intended to allow the agency to handle any disputes with their prospective, current or past employees internally so as to provide faster resolutions for employees.

Green v. Brennan

The case before the Supreme Court asks the following question: “Whether…the filing period for a constructive discharge claim begins to run when an employee resigns…or at the time of an employer’s last allegedly discriminatory act giving rise to the resignation?” This question has thus far caused a divide in the federal circuits, which is why litigants as well as federal agency employers are eagerly awaiting the decision. 

According to one source following the proceedings, the Court’s answer to this question was not made clear after oral arguments, despite some interesting questions and hypotheses offered by the Justices. For example, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged the hardships that employees face in situations involving hostile work environments and events leading to constructive discharge cases; however, he also mentioned that many employees “will set a resignation date at some point in the future.” Justice Sotomayor also had some questions surrounding an employee’s motivation to leave a job they otherwise would remain in for years. 

Whether or not the court finds in favor of the plaintiff in this case, its decision will have a great impact on the millions of federal applicants, employees, and former employees who believe they are being subjected to a work environment so hostile that they would rather quit than continue on for one more day. It could either open or close the door on thousands of lawsuits nationwide.

Need Help?

If you are a federal employee or applicant who has been discriminated against, do not delay.  Call the law offices of Garcia & Gurney today and talk with an experienced attorney about your situation.  Our office can help you navigate the complicated agency processes to ensure that your rights are protected.

Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

Awards/Affiliations
Events and News
  • "New Laws for 2018November 15, 2017"

  • "E-Contracts & E-Signatures: Benefits and PitfallsOctober 18, 2017"

  • "Protecting your IPAugust 9, 2017"

  • "Medical Marijuana & Employment: The Do’s and Don’tsJune 28, 2017"

  • "Medical Marijuana & Employment: The Do’s and Don’tsApril 10, 2017"

Client Testimonials
  • "Melinda Garcia came very highly recommended by two colleagues who raved about her expertise and assertiveness. She and her team are extremely responsive and help us navigate the legal challenges of our consulting business. We're thrilled to have Melinda on our side!"

  • "Melinda Garcia was wonderful to work with. She is an outstanding listener and has a great memory for details and personal information.... which makes one feel very comfortable and welcome. I would highly recommend her to anyone not only because of her outstanding abilities but because of the compassion she eludes in dealing with an individual's issues/concerns."

  • "Highly recommend! I was in need of urgent help with an employment matter and Melinda Garcia came through for me the same day. She fit me in for a consultation within hours of my call and read my documents prior to our meeting. She was thorough, attentive to my needs, knowledgeable, professional and above all very comforting."

  • "Melinda Garcia provided me excellent advice in resolving an employment agreement related to an acquisition of the company I worked for. She is very knowledgeable, asked me what I wanted to achieve with her services, provided excellent service to achieve those goals, and was very cognizant of fees. I recommend her for employment related services."

  • "Melinda Garcia provided excellent guidance with an employment/compensation case. Her knowledge of employment law, and strong negotiation skills, brought the case to a successful conclusion."

  • "Melinda Garcia has done an excellent job assisting us as we established our small business. From incorporation to contract negotiations, Melinda Garcia and her staff were outstanding"