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Supreme Court Clarifies the Time Period for Initiating Constructive Discharge Claims

On May 23, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Green v. Brennan, holding that the statute of limitations for a constructive discharge claim begins to run at the time the employee resigns. While the Court’s 7-1 decision was unsurprising and does not change the substantive law of constructive discharge, it provides employers and employees alike with the benefit of a clear rule for assessing the timeliness of charges alleging constructive discharge.

Resignation Date Starts the Statute of Limitations Clock In Constructive Discharge Cases, Supreme Court Holds

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the statute of limitations for purposes of filing a claim alleging constructive discharge begins to run on the date that the employee resigns, as opposed to the last discriminatory act that prompts the resignation, resolving a circuit split.

SCOTUS Rules Resignation Triggers Statute of Limitations in Constructive Discharge Cases

Federal and private-sector employers alike should take note of yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Green v. Brennan. The issue in Green was whether a federal employee’s claim of discrimination in a constructive discharge case was triggered by the last act of alleged discrimination by the employer or by the date on which the employee resigned. The Supreme Court reversed the Tenth Circuit decision and held that the statute of limitations in a constructive discharge case begins to run on the date the employee resigns because that is the date when the employee has a “complete and present cause of action.”

Supreme Court: Constructive Discharge Limitations Period Begins with Notice of Resignation

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the statute of limitations for an employee’s Title VII constructive discharge claim begins on the date of the employee’s notice of resignation. Green v. Brennan, No. 14-613 (May 23, 2016).

Supreme Court Tells EEOC It May Be on the Hook for Fees if It Does Not Fulfill Its Statutory Pre-Suit Duties

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) authorizes the award of attorneys’ fees to a party who prevails in a discrimination or retaliation claim brought under that statute. Although this fee shifting provision applies to both employee plaintiffs and employer defendants, courts routinely award fees to prevailing plaintiffs but have interpreted this provision to allow prevailing defendants to recover fees only in the rare case where the plaintiff’s claim was frivolous or unreasonable. Last week, in a helpful decision for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified that a defendant-employer does not necessarily need to prevail “on the merits” of a discrimination lawsuit to be entitled to fees.

SCOTUS Rules Notice of Resignation Starts the Clock in a Federal Employee’s Constructive Discharge Case

On May 23, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States decided when the limitations period for filing a lawsuit begins to run for a federal employee claiming he or she resigned—or was “constructively discharged”—due to discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the Court, a federal civil servant must “initiate contact” with an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor at his or her agency “within 45 days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory” before he or she may file suit under Title VII. In a constructive discharge case, the Court further held, the “matter alleged to be discriminatory” includes the employee’s resignation. Thus, “the 45-day clock for a constructive discharge begins running only after the employee resigns.” Green v. Brennan, No. 14–613, Supreme Court of the United States (May 23, 2016).

Supreme Court Rules that Statute of Limitations Period for Constructive Discharge Claims Begins to Run from Date of Notice of Resignation

Executive Summary: The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that the statute of limitations period for constructive discharge claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Title VII) begins to run from the date that the employee gives the employer notice that the employee is resigning. Reversing the Tenth Circuit's decision in favor of the employer, in Green v. Brennan, the Supreme Court held that "the matter alleged to be discriminatory includes the employee's resignation," and that the limitation period for filing a claim for a constructive discharge begins running only after the employee resigns.

SCOTUS Gives Boost To Employee Constructive Discharge Claims

In a 7 to 1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found today that the statute of limitations for a constructive discharge claim under Title VII begins on the date of the employee’s notice of resignation, not on the date of the last alleged discriminatory act by the employer. This is a bad decision for employers and will likely lead to an uptick in legal claims filed by disgruntled former workers. It opens the door for former employees to file constructive discharge claims long after the alleged discriminatory conduct occurred by simply delaying their resignation indefinitely. Green v. Brennan.

Fee Wars: Supreme Court Eases Defendants’ Burden for Attorneys’ Fees in Baseless Discrimination Actions

In an 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that attorneys’ fees for successfully defending a Title VII action can be recovered by an employer even if the defendant’s victory is not based on the merits of the case. CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v. EEOC, No. 14-1375 (May 19, 2016). The ruling overturned an earlier Eighth Circuit decision that had allowed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to escape payment of attorneys’ fees. The ruling is important because defendants sometimes prevail in frivolous lawsuits for procedural reasons that are not merits-based.

Supreme Court Holds a Party May be Entitled to Attorneys' Fees Absent a Favorable Ruling on the Merits

On May 19, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in CRST, Inc. v. EEOC, which addressed the definition of a “prevailing party” who may be awarded attorneys’ fees in Title VII cases. Although the Court ultimately remanded the case to the Eighth Circuit on other grounds, it unanimously held that a favorable ruling on the merits of a Title VII case is “not a necessary predicate to find that a defendant has prevailed.” A boon to employers, this decision enables defendants to recover attorneys’ fees and costs under Title VII for frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless claims when such claims are disposed of on any grounds, regardless of whether those grounds are merit-based or procedural.