The opinion of the court was delivered by: SNYDER
On December 9, 1976, Plaintiffs, all Blacks and one a female, filed suit against their employer, Allegheny Airlines, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1976 (hereinafter the Union), alleging race and sex discrimination in hiring, job classification, compensation and employment conditions, all in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e.
The suit was initiated within 90 days of Clarence Trent's receipt of a "right to sue" letter from the EEOC.
This "right to sue" letter indicates that the EEOC determined that it lacked jurisdiction because the charges were untimely.
Both Defendants have moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Allegheny contends that Mr. Trent did not file his charge with the EEOC within 300 days of the date of discrimination, and thus Mr. Trent and all the other Plaintiffs whose suits depend on the Trent charges to satisfy the statutory requirements of § 2000e-5(e) are jurisdictionally barred. The Union contends that it was not named as a respondent in Mr. Trent's charges with the EEOC, and therefore the Court lacks jurisdiction over the suit against it.
I. TIMELY FILING OF CHARGES WITH THE EEOC
Allegheny correctly asserts that the timely filing of charges with the EEOC is a jurisdictional prerequisite to employment discrimination suits in federal court. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e); Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 47, 39 L. Ed. 2d 147, 94 S. Ct. 1011 (1974); McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 36 L. Ed. 2d 668, 93 S. Ct. 1817 (1973). To determine the timeliness of filing, however, it would have this Court defer to the EEOC's determination of timeliness and dismiss the Complaint; or it argues that at least the EEOC decision places an affirmative obligation on the Plaintiffs to allege in the Complaint specific facts to negate the EEOC determination, and that here Plaintiffs have failed to even allege a timely filing with the Commission.
While the EEOC's expertise in Title VII cases may entitle its interpretations of the Act to deference by the courts, its findings do not determine the scope of federal court jurisdiction. The court must determine its jurisdiction. Belt v. Johnson Motor Lines, Inc., 458 F.2d 443 (5th Cir. 1972); See Macklin v. Spector Freight Systems, Inc., 156 U.S. App. D.C. 69, 478 F.2d 979, 986 (1973). Here, we have no indication whatsoever of the basis for the EEOC's conclusion that the charges were untimely. On the other hand, the affidavit
filed by Mr. Trent in support of his charges shows that the charges were in fact timely. In summary, the affidavit alleges that:
1. When Trent first sought employment as a mechanic with Allegheny Airlines in 1964, he was rejected because he was Black. He was later hired with the assistance of a maintenance supervisor whom he had met. (pp. 1-2)
2. Despite good evaluations as a mechanic, he was demoted to cleaner. When he tried to upgrade as a mechanic in 1966, at a time when Whites with automotive experience were being upgraded, he was told he needed two licenses to qualify for the job. The Union Contract said no licenses were required. During that time, no Blacks were hired on as mechanics without licenses. (pp. 3-4)
4. Trent has lost five years seniority because of this discrimination, and this loss of seniority and the present use of the seniority system now discriminatorily deprives him of premium jobs, shifts, and days off. (p.4)
5. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 1976, did nothing to help him. (p.4)
6. Trent was harassed by foremen and fellow employees. (pp.5-6)
7. Several other named Blacks have been treated unfairly (the other Plaintiffs in this suit). (p.6)
8. Allegheny doesn't seem to want to hire or upgrade Blacks. Out of 450-500 mechanics, only three are Black. There are 7 or 8 cleaners who are Black; six of them are demoted mechanics who were hired in the last few years because Allegheny was going to be demonstrated against. Their ...