Workers who want to sue for age discrimination need to act quickly

Workers who suspect that their employer has discriminated against them because of their age must act quickly to protect their rights, or they may be unable to sue. This fact was illustrated by a recent case in Mississippi.

A 66-year-old accounts payable clerk lost her job in a consolidation of plants. She was told in June 2007 that she would be laid off effective July 30 of that year.

In early August, though, she was called back to work on a temporary basis to help with the consolidation. She stayed for five months.

Two months after her temporary position ended, she sued for age discrimination, claiming she was improperly terminated based on her age.

But a federal appeals court said it was too late to sue.

Generally, under the federal age discrimination law, an employee has to sue within six months of the illegal act, the court said.

In this case, the clock started running in June when the employee received notice of her termination – not on her final day of work. The court also ruled that her temporary position didn’t stop the clock.

The court acknowledged that this puts employees like the clerk in a tough spot – if she filed her lawsuit in time, she would have given up any hope of regaining her position through temporary work. However, the court said it had to follow the law.