National Railroad Passenger Corporation v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 17 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 101 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

statute. It provides that a charge must be filed within 180 or 300 days "after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred." A hostile work environment claim is composed of a series of separate acts that collectively constitute one "unlawful employment practice." 42 U. S. C. 2000e-5(e)(1). The timely filing provision only requires that a Title VII plaintiff file a charge within a certain number of days after the unlawful practice happened. It does not matter, for purposes of the statute, that some of the component acts of the hostile work environment fall outside the statutory time period. Provided that an act contributing to the claim occurs within the filing period, the entire time period of the hostile environment may be considered by a court for the purposes of determining liability.11

That act need not, however, be the last act. As long as the employer has engaged in enough activity to make out an actionable hostile environment claim, an unlawful employment practice has "occurred," even if it is still occurring. Subsequent events, however, may still be part of the one hostile work environment claim and a charge may be filed at a later date and still encompass the whole.

It is precisely because the entire hostile work environment encompasses a single unlawful employment practice that we do not hold, as have some of the Circuits, that the plaintiff may not base a suit on individual acts that occurred outside the statute of limitations unless it would have been unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to sue before the statute ran

11 Amtrak argues that recovery for conduct taking place outside the time period for filing a timely charge should be available only in hostile environment cases where the plaintiff reasonably did not know such conduct was discriminatory or where the discriminatory nature of such conduct is recognized as discriminatory only in light of later events. See Brief for Petitioner 38. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit adopted this approach in Galloway v. General Motors Service Parts Operations, 78 F. 3d 1164 (1996). See supra, at 106. Although we reject the test proposed by petitioner, other avenues of relief are available to employers. See infra, at 121-122.

117

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