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What time limits apply to First Amendment-retaliation cases?

The time limit for public-employee First Amendment–retaliation civil-litigation claims depends on the administrative remedies available.

The time limit for local and state employees to file a First Amendment-retaliation lawsuit varies from state to state. Because Congress never established a time limit for suits under the federal law that permits individuals to sue when someone operating "under color of state law" violates rights ensured by federal law, there is no deadline to apply for these cases at a federal level.

Bearing these factors in mind, the Supreme Court has expressed that federal courts should utilize the time limit for personal injury claims. Depending on the state where the court is located, this can range from 1 to 6 years.

Federal employees who maintain a right to appeal an unfavorable employment action (such as the Merit System Protection Board [MSPB]) do not have a right to sue directly in court. The time limit for MSPB appeals is generally 30 days.

If you are a federal whistleblower who filed a claim with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), you will have 65 days after the OSC delivers notification of termination of its investigation. If the OSC takes longer than 120 days, then you can file an appeal any time after (up to 60 days after receiving notice from the OSC).

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