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What is the continuing violation doctrine?

On Behalf of | Oct 31, 2022 | Employment Law

The continuing violation doctrine has significantly contributed to increasing fairness in the California workplace by giving employees additional means of recovery from employers’ unlawful actions. The doctrine essentially holds an employer accountable for any discriminatory actions taken, even if it was not the employer’s specific intent to discriminate. In other words, if an employer repeatedly violates anti-discrimination laws, it can be held liable for all resulting harm.

This doctrine expresses that once an employer knows a pattern or practice of discrimination, it is responsible for taking appropriate action to prevent future violations.

Continuing violations in a claim of discrimination

The continuing violation doctrine is a legal principle that considers past harassment or hostile work environment conduct as evidence of continuing discrimination. Under this doctrine, an employer is potentially liable for discriminatory, harassing, or hostile acts occurring even after a prior incident has a resolution.

This doctrine can be helpful in cases where employees feel that they are constantly being harassed or subjected to offensive behavior at work. It can also help to determine whether an employer was aware of and allowed for such behavior.

Under the continuing violation doctrine, an employer can be held liable for violating Title VII even if the alleged discrimination occurred years ago.

In establishing a continuing violation claim, the plaintiff must show that:

  • There was a prior discriminatory incident
  • Incidents continued after the company was made aware of the problem
  • The incidents were sufficiently severe and consistent with creating a hostile work environment

La Jolla/San Diego, California employment discrimination attorneys

In California, Title VII file discrimination claims with the EEOC within 180 days of the offending incident.

The continuing violation doctrine can have serious consequences for employers. If a La Jolla/San Diego, California employer has violated your rights under Title VII, research your options under the law.

The EEOC’s hostile work environment policy

The EEOC’s hostile work environment employment law prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s perception of hostile work conditions. This policy covers various behaviors that may be considered hostile, such as verbal abuse, intimidation, and continual harassment. In addition, the policy emphasizes that employers must take steps to eliminate any offensive behavior and ensure that all employees receive equal treatment.

Under the policy, employers must take reasonable steps to prevent and correct hostile environment incidents. They must also maintain accurate and up-to-date records of complaints and investigations and take appropriate action when violations occur.


Remember that employers must ensure that their employees know their rights under the policy, including the right to file a complaint if they experience harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Know your rights.