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Legislative Update: Kentucky Significantly Shortens Limitations Period for Employment Claims

Another legislative session has come and gone in the commonwealth. As things wind down in Frankfort for the year, a recap of the flurry of employment-related legislation filed this past year is in order. The 2024 session was unique in the broad range of employment issues considered by the legislature - ranging from paid family leave and expansions of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KCRA) to amendments limiting the requirements of the Kentucky Wage and Hour Act (KWHA). Of these bills, even the most employer-friendly legislation, nearly all lost momentum in the second half of the session, failing to secure the support necessary to pass out of the Republican-dominated legislature. One significant bill, however, did manage to secure enough votes for passage, ultimately becoming law this month without the governor's signature.

House Bill 320 is a notable piece of legislation that shortens the filing period for wage and hour claims under the KWHA, discrimination claims under the KCRA, and claims of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy to three years. Prior to the adoption of this bill, the statute of limitations period for such claims was subject to Kentucky's general five-year limitations period under KRS 413.120(2), as “no other time [was] fixed by the statute creating the liability” for each claim.   

Since the bill did not contain an emergency enactment provision, per Section 55 of the Kentucky Constitution, this legislation will not take effect until 90 days after adjournment of the legislative session. Sine die for the 2024 session was scheduled for April 15, meaning the legislation will take effect on approximately July 15, 2024, pending final determination by the Attorney General. Furthermore, the bill contains no express language applying it retroactively, as required by KRS 446.080. 

While House Bill 320 is the only major employment bill to make it into law this year, employers and employees in the commonwealth alike should take note of this development in the coming months and years after it comes into effect. If potentially faced with such claims, employers may now have a new defense of untimeliness, while unwary plaintiffs may inadvertently lose their opportunity to bring such claims under this new shortened three-year period.