By: Jacqueline M. Woolley, Esq.
In an effort to expand employees’ workplace protections in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Democratic governmental leaders last week introduced a bill called The Emergency Limitation Periods Extensions for Workers Act, which proposes extending the applicable statute of limitations periods for the filing of claims under certain labor and employment laws. Specifically, the legislation aims to extend the limitations periods by the amount of time overlapping the COVID-19 national emergency, plus an additional 90 days after the pandemic is no longer deemed a public health emergency by the US Department of Health and Human Services. What this means in practical terms is that an employee who had 60 days left to file an EEOC charge for race discrimination when COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency in January 2020 will have 150 days to file once the emergency declaration is lifted.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the bill’s sponsors, emphasized that “[b]ecause of COVID-19, workers already facing terrible health risks are also confronting increased barriers to legal representation and worried the clock will run out on seeking relief . . . . [This] bill will make sure workers’ rights aren’t thrown off to the side because of a public health emergency by extending the period of time workers have to file claims.”
The bill includes, but is not limited to, employment discrimination claims filed under The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (commonly referred to as “Title VII”), The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), as well as wage and hour-related claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).