The Charge-Filing Requirement of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act: Accrual and Equitable Modification

This Note argues that ADEA causes of action should accrue when the plaintiff discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, that she has been injured by an adverse employment action such as discharge, demotion, denial of a position or promotion, or receipt of pay lower than employees doing the same job. Courts should equitably modify the filing period for the time in which the plaintiff reasonably failed to file a charge even though she already knew of the adverse employment action. Such a situation arises largely in two contexts: (1) when an employer engages in active misconduct that keeps the plaintiff from filing timely, or (2) when through no fault of her own the plaintiff did not acquire facts that would indicate that the decision may have been the result of unlawful discrimination. The approach proposed furthers the policy balance suggested by the Act’s legislative history, relevant U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and practical policy considerations. Ultimately, ADEA should protect victims of age discrimination in the workplace unless defendants would suffer unfairly from the pursuit of stale claims.