Legal actions are subject to statutes of limitations which limit the amount of time you have to file a case. These statutes of limitation are provided for by the law and will vary, depending upon the type of claim you are alleging. You will lose your rights if you do not act within these time periods.
1. Find out if you have signed an “agreement” with your employer limiting the amount of time you have to bring a claim, or requiring mandatory arbitration.
It is possible that you have agreed to a shorter-than-normal statute of limitations by signing a statement to that effect. Such statements sometimes appear on an employment application, and you may not be aware that you have signed one. It is also possible that you have signed a mandatory arbitration agreement containing specific time limits. Any such agreements or waivers may supersede the normally applicable statute of limitations. You should carefully review your personnel file for any agreements limiting the time period, or your ability to file a lawsuit in court, and advise us of any such agreements. If you have not yet obtained your file, you need to make a written request to the company pursuant to Michigan’s Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right-to-Know Act. Click here for information about obtaining your file.
2. Create a time-line showing incidents of harassment or other adverse action.
If your potential case involves harassment or other adverse action short of termination (such as being passed over for promotion, being demoted or disciplined), it is a good idea to create a time-line of these events. It is possible that any incidents which took place outside of the relevant limitations period will be excluded from your lawsuit. Therefore, it is important to determine what your filing deadline would be for each relevant incident or event.
3. If you have a potential discrimination case, file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
There are a number of reasons that it may be preferable for you to file your lawsuit in federal court, under federal law, rather than Michigan state court, and it is important for you to take the necessary steps to preserve your right to do so. If your potential case involves some type of discrimination (based on age, race, national origin, gender, disability, religion), or retaliation for having complained about discrimination, you must file a charge of discrimination or retaliation with the MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL RIGHTS (M.D.C.R.) within 180 days of the discriminatory or retaliatory treatment, or with the U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION (E.E.O.C.) within 300 days of the discriminatory or retaliatory treatment in order to pursue a federal discrimination claim. The telephone number for the MDCR is (313) 256-2682. The telephone number for the E.E.O.C. is (313) 226-7636. Failure to meet the 300-day time limit will mean that you will be barred from bringing a federal discrimination case in federal court. Once the M.D.C.R. or the E.E.O.C. has finished its investigation of your case, you will likely be issued a Notice of Right-to-Sue, with a 90-day time limit for getting your case filed in federal court.
4. Keep track of your time limits.
During our evaluation of your potential case, we are not representing you and you alone are responsible for meeting any of the applicable time limits. It is important that you provide us with relevant information in a timely manner, keep in touch with our office concerning the progress of our review, keep careful track of possible statute of limitations deadlines and take the necessary action within those deadlines. Any materials you submit to us should include any time limits that you are aware of. You should submit photocopies of documents rather than originals. Please keep in mind that our office has no responsibility for meeting any of the applicable deadlines unless and until we have agreed to represent you and we have received a signed retainer agreement from you.