EEOC Revises its Compliance Manual Regarding Charge Filing Deadlines

September 12, 2005

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has, recently, revised its Compliance Manual—the agency’s internal investigation manual—to reflect current law regarding charge-filing time limitations.

In 2002, the U. S. Supreme Court decided National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, holding that a Title VII plaintiff raising claims of discrete discriminatory or retaliatory acts must file his charge within the appropriate 180- or 300-day period. Alternatively, a charge alleging a hostile work environment will not be time-barred if all acts constituting the claim are part of the same unlawful practice and at least one act falls within the filing period. In short, the Court held that the timeliness of a charge depends on whether it involves a discrete act or a hostile work environment.

This means charges based on discrete acts, such as failure to hire, denial of promotion, reduction in salary, illegally discriminatory pay, or termination are only actionable if the discrete act occurred within the filing period. A discrete act that occurred before the filing period is untimely even if it is related to other actions that are timely. Thus, for example, a plaintiff alleging years of continuing unequal pay, would be able to recover only for unequal pay occurring within the 300 days before she filed her charge of discrimination, because the issuance of each unequal paycheck constituted a discrete act of discrimination. The Court did note, however, that untimely discrete acts may be used as background evidence in support of timely actions. Accordingly, at trial, the plaintiff may be able to introduce evidence indicating she had never been fairly compensated, despite the fact she could not recover damages for unfair compensation outside the 300 days immediately preceding her charge.

The EEOC has abandoned its incorrect “continuing violation” theory, which it applied in all cases, regardless of whether the alleged conduct fell into the “discrete act” or “harassment” category. The new guidance—which includes helpful examples—can be found on the EEOC’s website at

Firm Highlights


COVID-19 Response Team - Resources and Updates


U.S. Supreme Court Settles Issue of Title VII Protections for LGBTQ+ Employees

Headshot of Stephanie Rojo

The Importance of Strategic Transitions

Transitions versus change, what’s the destination and why is this important for a business?  Kevin talks with Gwen Gierke from Gierke Jungbauer on how they help to manage transitions. Transition happens in three stages: the ending, the neutral zone, and...


The Tale of OCS and the Coronavirus

How has Opportunity Community Services survived during this pandemic and Phase 1? Rose Kukwa of Opportunity Community Services and Dennis Van Norman with Van Norman & Associates share their experience.  Rose and her team...


Supreme Court Reaffirms and Clarifies Ministerial Exception to Employment Discrimination Laws Under First Amendment’s Religion Clause


The 2020 HR Recap

We’ve made it to the recap episode! The good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. Join Kevin and Elaine (Lainey) Luthens as they discuss it all including FFCRA legislation, OSHA, what they...


Thompson Coe Saves Client $100Ks in Damages After 3-Day Trial

News Item

Thompson Coe Welcomes Partners Kenya Bodden and Patrick Kelly



Individual Coverage HRA. What is it? What are the benefits and drawbacks? What companies are a good fit for ICHRAs versus group health plans? Kevin talks with Matt Hollister, President and CEO of Business...


The COVID-19 Vaccine Part 1