Although the major federal antidiscrimination laws all set strict time limits for filing a claim, from time to time a court will allow an untimely claim to go forward by applying the legal doctrine of “equitable tolling.” Equitable tolling can come into play in a case where a plaintiff, despite reasonable diligence on his or her part, was unable to comply with the applicable filing deadline due to “extraordinary” circumstances.
In an important decision issued a few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court provided helpful guidance on the elements a plaintiff must establish for a court to consider equitable tolling. Although the case, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States, No. 14-510 (January 25, 2016), arose outside of the employment context, the Court’s ruling is equally applicable to an employment case where equitable tolling may be at issue.
A copy of the Supreme Court’’ Menominee Indian Tribe ruling is available here.