Cases of workplace harassment in California are a serious problem for workers. Workers who file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission face a difficult set of barriers to prove their case, but the continuing violation doctrine can help them to prevail.
Workers who want to file with the EEOC face strict timing requirements. The filing must be submitted no later than 300 days after the incident. This is complex because, with harassment in the workplace, there is generally not one large incident, but a series of smaller ones that create an overall pattern. The continuing violation doctrine is a legal principle that makes it a bit easier to meet the 300-day timing. It states that the employee can include all of the incidents pertaining to the harassment in the complaint as long as the most recent one satisfies the 300-day limit. In other words, the clock to file a case starts at the most recent incidence of harassment, not the first.
Benefits to workers
Without the continuing violation doctrine, workers would only be able to include incidents that were within 300 days of their filing. That would make it much harder to present a case of ongoing harassment. Workers already face challenges in filing discrimination and harassment lawsuits, but the inclusion of this doctrine is a significant boost to their ability to show an ongoing pattern with sufficient evidence.
The continuing violation doctrine is a core part of streamlining the process of filing a case with the EEOC for workplace harassment. It allows workers to include an entire pattern of incidents as evidence, not merely the ones within the 300 days before the complaint.