In a recent case, Frazier v. Vilsack, the Eighth Circuit upheld the dismissal of a Title VII racial discrimination case filed one day after the expiration of the statute of limitations. This is a clear example of how seriously courts take deadlines. In Frazier, the employee filed his lawsuit against a government employer 96 days after the EEOC mailed him the right-to-sue letter. Under Title VII, an employee has 90 days from the time the notice is received to file suit against the employer.
The district court found that the right-to-sue letter did not arrive until five days after the date the letter was issued. Therefore, the employee did not file his suit for 91 days, one day past the statute of limitations. The Eighth Circuit noted that it was not clear whether Title VII’s statute of limitations were jurisdictional or an issue of equitable tolling, but that it did not matter. One day late is still too late. The employee tried to argue that he didn’t receive the right-to-sue letter until after March 18th, the day the trial court found the letter arrived, but could not provide evidence to support his claim. He also argued that he did not always open his mail on the day it arrived, and therefore would not have had notice until after the 18th. The Court held that such arguments had no impact on the statute of limitations.