March 27, 2019

The continuing violation exception when filing of a complaint alleging a violation of New York State's Human Rights Law is not triggered by a single event


Petitioner appealed Supreme Court's granting the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities' [OPDM] pre-answer motion to dismiss the Petitioner's complaint alleging unlawful discrimination in violation of New York State's Human Rights Law based on OPDM's rejection of her application for employment as "time-barred".

The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court's ruling.

Noting that OPDM had the initial burden of establishing, prima facie, that Petitioner's cause of action was untimely filed, the Appellate Division said that OPDM had established that the last discriminatory act set forth in the Petitioner's complaint occurred on August 30, 2013. Accordingly Petitioner's cause of action accrued, and the three-year statute of limitations for the Human Rights Law began to run, on that date. However, Plaintiff did not file her complaint until March 10, 2017, more than six months after the statute of limitations period had expired.

OPDM, having made a prima facie showing that Petitioner action was untimely, shifted the burden of going forward to Petitioner to establish that some exception to the limitations period applied in her situation that would allow her lawsuit to go forward. Petitioner attempted to do so by alleging that the continuing violation exception was applicable in her situation and thus her action had been timely filed.

The Appellate Division disagreed, concluding that Petitioner had failed to meet her burden of proof. Assuming, but not conceding, that the denial of Petitioner's application for employment constituted an act of unlawful discrimination, this constituted but a "single act" rather than evidence of "an ongoing policy of discrimination." 

The court explained that a single act of unlawful discrimination does not trigger the continuing violation exception and thus the running of the statute of limitations had not been tolled and had expired "six or more months" prior to the date on which Petitioner had filed her complaint.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


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