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Employment discrimination claims are often decided on the merits of the claim. Courts routinely have to answer the question: Did the employer discriminate on the basis of a protected class against an employee in terminating the employment of that individual?

But there’s another class of cases that can resolved on procedural grounds, often times in the employer’s favor.

Employment discrimination claims have a statute of limitations. In Connecticut, if discrimination claims aren’t filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights or Opportunities or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within the statute of limitations period, then the claims are stale and will be dismissed by the court.

The recent case of Roman v. A&S Innersprings USA, LLC, is the perfect example of the statute of limitations in action.

The plaintiff, a former employee of the defendant, claimed pregnancy discrimination. She was rehired by the company in November 2017 and just two months later, in January 2018, notified the employer of her pregnancy. Under the company policy, she was entitled to unpaid leave and a transfer to a suitable temporary position. Despite this policy, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant discouraged her from returning to work after her pregnancy, claiming no administrative positions were available.

The defendant later downsized significantly, and although an administrative position became available in November 2018, the plaintiff did not apply for it or reach out for more information. The plaintiff filed a discrimination complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in May 2019.

The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant, ruling that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The court found that the alleged discriminatory acts, such as failure to transfer to an administrative position and termination of employment, occurred outside the 180-day limitation period specified by law. (That statute of limitations period has since changed.)

Furthermore, the court concluded that the plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of discrimination concerning the failure to rehire. Even though the plaintiff argued for the application of the continuing course of conduct doctrine to toll the limitation period, the court rejected this argument. The court found that the doctrine doesn’t apply to the discrete acts of discrimination, and the failure to rehire was not considered a continuing violation, as the plaintiff failed to show any adverse employment action after December 2, 2018.

For the employer, a win is a win. It appears the employer had arguments that it did not discriminate against the employee but got the case dismissed because the employee didn’t meet the statutorily defined criteria for setting forth a claim in the first place.