National Railroad Passenger Corporation v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 24 (2002)

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124

NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION v. MORGAN

Opinion of O'Connor, J.

the notice must be of" (emphasis in original)). In my view, therefore, the charge-filing period precludes recovery based on discrete actions that occurred more than 180 or 300 days after the employee had, or should have had, notice of the discriminatory act.

II

Unlike the Court, I would hold that 2000e-5(e)(1) serves as a limitations period for all actions brought under Title VII, including those alleging discrimination by being subjected to a hostile working environment. Section 2000e- 5(e)(1) provides that a plaintiff must file a charge with the EEOC within 180 or 300 days "after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred."* It draws no distinction between claims based on discrete acts and claims based on hostile work environments. If a plaintiff fails to file a charge within that time period, liability may not be assessed, and damages must not be awarded, for that part of the hostile environment that occurred outside the charge-filing period.

The Court's conclusion to the contrary is based on a characterization of hostile environment discrimination as composing a single claim based on conduct potentially spanning several years. See ante, at 117. I agree with this characterization. I disagree, however, with the Court's conclusion that, because of the cumulative nature of the violation, if any conduct forming part of the violation occurs within the charge-filing period, liability can be proved and damages can be collected for the entire hostile environment. Although a hostile environment claim is, by its nature, a general atmosphere of discrimination not completely reducible to particular discriminatory acts, each day the worker is exposed to the hostile environment may still be treated as a separate "occurrence," and claims based on some of those occurrences

*This case provides no occasion to determine whether the discovery rule operates in the context of hostile work environment claims.

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