By Travis Lampert, Esq.
While most of us were grappling with the effects of the corona-virus in our workplaces and homes, Florida’s legislature and governor have been hard at work shortening the time frame Floridians have to file claims of discrimination against their employers. The Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. Under Florida law, a person who has been discriminated against by their employer must first file a claim with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) within 365 days of the discriminatory act. The FCHR must then investigate the claim and determine, within 180 days, whether there is reasonable cause to believe the employer engaged in unlawful discrimination.
If the FCHR finds that reasonable cause exists, then the party discriminated against can file a lawsuit, but must do so within one year of the FCHR’s finding of reasonable cause. Until recently, if the FCHR did not decide on reasonable cause within the 180-day period, then the party discriminated against could file a lawsuit, but had four years from the expiration of the 180-day period in which to do so. However, on June 30, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 255 into law, which reduces the period to file a claim after the expiration of the 180-day period from four years to one year.
Thus, Florida’s legislature and governor have significantly shortened the period in which a lawsuit must be filed against an employer when the FCHR fails to make a reasonable cause determination within the 180-day period. As a practical matter, most claims filed with the FCHR are dual filed with the equivalent Federal entity, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). When claims are dual filed, the FCHR rarely issues a determination within the 180-day period- meaning CS/HB 255’s shortened limitations period will impact most claims.
If you have suffered workplace discrimination, with the new, and significantly shortened limitations period, it is more important than ever that you timely speak with a qualified employment law attorney. Contact us today to discuss your case and determine if you need a consultation.