Statute of Limitations in FEHA Claims (Fair Employment Housing Act)

The statute of limitations defense is an affirmative defense. To obtain summary judgment, the defendant has "'"the initial burden to show undisputed facts support each element of the affirmative defense,"'" at which point the burden shifts to plaintiff to show a triable issue of material fact. (Consumer Cause, Inc. v. SmileCare (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 454, 467-468.) "FEHA claims are governed by two statutory deadlines: section 12960 and section 12965." (Acuna v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 1402, 1411 (Acuna).) "Section 12960, subdivision (d) provides that an employee bringing an FEHA claim must exhaust the administrative remedy by filing an administrative complaint with the (Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within one year after the alleged unlawful action occurred. . This code section states that with certain exceptions not applicable here: 'No administrative complaint may be filed after the expiration of one year from the date upon which the alleged unlawful practice or refusal to cooperate occurred. . . . '" (Acuna, supra, at p. 1412.) "Section 12965, subdivision (b) concerns a separate statutory deadline applicable after the DFEH issues a right-to-sue notice. The code section provides that after an employee files a complaint and the DFEH does not issue an accusation within a specified period, the DFEH must issue a right-to-sue letter notifying the employee that he or she may bring a civil suit within one year of the date of the notice. . This code section establishes a strict 'one-year statute of limitations, commencing from the date of the right-to-sue notice by the DFEH,' except for certain statutory exceptions. . Section 12965's one-year deadline from the right-to-sue notice is 'a condition on a substantive right rather than a procedural limitation period for commencement of an action.' . Thus, it '"causes the right which previously arose and on which a suit could have been maintained, to expire."'" (Acuna, supra, 217 Cal.App.4th at p. 1413.)