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Rabzak v. County of Berks

submitted: February 20, 1987.

STANLEY A. RABZAK, APPELLANT
v.
COUNTY OF BERKS



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA, Civil Action No. 86-1019

Author: Maris

Before WEIS, BECKER AND MARIS, Circuit Judges.

MARIS, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal by the plaintiff, Stanley A. Rabzak, from a summary judgment for the defendant, the County of Berks, Pennsylvania, in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act for reinstatement and monetary relief by reason of his discharge from employment as an accountant with the Berks County Home, which, he alleged, was because of his age. The Act provides that an action may not be brought under it unless the plaintiff has filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a charge alleging unlawful discrimination within a limited time, in this case 300 days, after the unlawful discharge occurred. Holding that the letter upon which the plaintiff relied as the required charge was not a charge within the meaning of the Act and that the plaintiff had, accordingly, not satisfied the condition precedent to bringing suit under the Act, the district court entered summary judgment for the defendant. In so doing, the district court relief upon the opinion of this court in Bihler v. Singer Co., 710 F.2d 96 (3d Cir. 1983). Since we think that this reliance was misplaced and that the letter upon which the plaintiff relies was adequate to constitute a charge within the meaning of the Act, we will reverse and remand for further proceedings on the merits.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 621-634, (herein the Act) gives a federal cause of action to individuals who have been discriminated against in their employment on account of age. The Act originally delegated enforcement duties to the Secretary of Labor. But by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978, § 2, 43 Fed. Reg. 19807, 92 Stat. 3781, these functions were transferred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (herein the Commission). The Act requires that prospective plaintiffs provide the Commission with an opportunity to resolve the dispute without recourse to litigation before bringing suit. To this end section 7(d) provides:

No civil action may be commenced by an individual under this section until 60 days after a charge alleging unlawful discrimination has been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Such a charge shall be filed--

(2) . . . within 300 days after the alleged unlawful practice occurred . . .*fn1 Upon receiving such a charge, the Commission shall promptly notify all persons named in such charge as prospective defendants in the action and shall promptly seek to eliminate any alleged unlawful practice by informal methods of conciliation, conference and persuasion. 29 U.S.C.A. § 626(d).

In the present case, the plaintiff's employment was terminated by the defendant on May 3, 1984, and on October 14, 1984, he mailed to the Commission the following letter:

October 14, 1984

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Office of Information

Staff Attorney

Department of Labor Building

Fourteenth Street and ...


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