Castagna v. Luceno, No. 13-0796-CV (2d Cir. Mar. 5, 2014): In a case of first impression, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, and a majority of district courts, holding that filing discrimination charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) do not toll the statute of limitations for state law tort claims, even for claims arising out of the same factual circumstances alleged in the discrimination charge.
In October 2008, the plaintiff filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC, after she resigned as an accountant and receptionist in July 2008. She alleged that her employer created a hostile work environment and constructively discharged her by making racial and sexual comments and engaging in offensive physical contact. Following an investigation, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter. The plaintiff then filed suit in federal court in November 2009, alleging discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as well as assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on state tort law. The defendant moved to dismiss the state tort claims because they were time-barred, having been filed more than one year after her last day of employment. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss and, on appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed. In reaching its conclusion, the Second Circuit rejected the plaintiff’s argument that it is a waste of judicial resources to bring a state law claim during the pendency of the EEOC’s administrative review of cases with the same underlying facts. As a result of the Second Circuit’s decision, plaintiffs may increasingly file state law tort claims simultaneously with EEOC charges and then request that the court to stay the state law tort proceedings until the EEOC’s investigation has been completed.