Statute of Limitations on Continuing Sexual Harassment

In Anderson v. Reno (9th Cir. 1999) the Ninth Circuit merely reversed summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a Title VII sexual harassment action based on the statute of limitations, where offensive conduct allegedly occurred within the limitations period and "related to earlier incidents." (190 F.3d at p. 937.) Again, this particular holding is consistent with our analysis since a sexual harassment claim is most suited to the continuing violation doctrine. Where we part company with Anderson -- which did not analyze the rationale underlying the continuing violation doctrine -- is its unconsidered acceptance of the proposition that eight years of alleged harassment could be revived by virtue of a timely harassment claim. However, Anderson's authority for that conclusion was Draper v. Coeur Rochester, Inc. (9th Cir. 1998) 147 F.3d 1104, whose holding did not extend that far. Draper merely concluded in the context of a grant of summary judgment that "a genuine issue of fact [exists] as to whether the hostile work environment [in that case] continued into the relevant period of limitations and, thus, whether [plaintiff's] claim falls under the continuing violation doctrine." (147 F.3d at p. 1109.) In so concluding, the court of appeals in Draper ruled that "in most claims of hostile work environment harassment, the discriminatory acts [are] not always of a nature that can be identified individually as significant events; instead, the day-to-day harassment is primarily significant, both as a legal and as a practical matter, in its cumulative effect" (147 F.3d at p. 1108)