South-Western Legal Studies in Business

State Statute of Limitations Used When Federal Civil Rights Statute of Limitations Not Set
Description In a case that claimed intentional discrimination in employment in the 1950s and 1960s, the Appeals court held that since the federal civil rights act invoked did not specify a statute of limitations, the courts look to the closest state statute for guidance. The two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases had been exceeded, so there could be no case.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Intentional Discrimination; Statute of Limitations
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Three African-American males sued Alcoa for intentional discrimination in employment that occurred when they were working at an Alcoa plant from 1953 to 1970. The suit was brought under the civil rights act contained in 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The district court dismissed the suit because the statute of limitations had run. Plaintiffs appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Federal civil rights actions, which lacks an express statute of limitations, are governed by the most closely analogous limitations period provided under state law. Since the civil rights act guarantees equal contracts rights, that would be the most analogous law to look to. In Texas there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions. Hence, the action is time barred.

Citation Jones v. Alcoa, Inc., --- F.3d --- (2003 WL 21692685, 5th Cir., 2003)

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