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MARTINEZ v. CAPITAL CITIES/ABC-WPVI

December 15, 1995

ARISTIDES MARTINEZ
v.
CAPITAL CITIES/ABC-WPVI



The opinion of the court was delivered by: POLLAK

 Pollak, J.

 December 15, 1995

 Defendant Capital Cities/ABC-WPVI, Inc. ("WPVI) has moved for summary judgments in this employment discrimination case brought by plaintiff Aristides Martinez. According to WPVI, all of the plaintiff's claims are time-barred. For the reasons that follow, I will grant defendant's motion as to the claims involving conduct during Martinez's employment at WPVI from 1980 to 1985 and his termination from WPVI in 1985. I am not yet prepared to rule on the claims involving Martinez's 1993 application to WPVI. Instead, I request that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) file a memorandum as amicus curiae to explain its view of the legal effect, if any, of a letter it sent the plaintiff on March 16, 1995.

 I. Factual Background

 Aristides Martinez worked for WPVI as a staff producer and videotape editor from 1980 until he was fired in 1985. Eight years later, in February 1993, Martinez applied to WPVI for a position as a videotape editor. On May 25, 1993, Martinez was informed that the job had been given to another applicant.

 On December 13, 1993, Martinez -- acting pro se, as he has continued to do throughout these proceedings -- filed a claim with the EEOC challenging WPVI's 1993 hiring decision as discriminatory on the basis of national origin and age. The EEOC forwarded a copy of the claim to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) pursuant to a worksharing agreement between the two organizations. On March 31, 1994, the EEOC sent Martinez a letter expressing its finding that there was no reasonable cause to believe that a violation of Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), had occurred. The letter also informed Martinez that he could pursue a federal civil action against WPVI in federal court within 90 days of his receipt of the letter.

 In a letter dated April 28, 1994, Martinez asked the EEOC to reconsider its rejection of his claim. The EEOC did not respond to this letter. Almost ten months later, on February 17, 1995, Martinez sent the EEOC a second letter requesting reconsideration. In a letter dated March 16, 1995, signed by Acting District Director Marie M. Tomasso, the EEOC denied Martinez's request for reconsideration. The letter further stated, "You have fifty-two days after receipt of this letter in which to file an action in Court." Def.'s Ex. B. This letter was postmarked March 23, 1995. A copy of this letter is appended to this opinion.

 On May 15, 1995, Martinez filed the present action. The complaint asserts claims of discrimination based on age, race national origin, and sex, under Title VII, the ADEA, and the PHRA. These claims relate to conduct by WPVI alleged to have occurred (1) during the period of Martinez's employment with WPVI from 1980 to 1985, (2) when WPVI fired Martinez in 1985, and (3) in 1993 when WPVI decided not to rehire Martinez.

 II. The Statute of Limitations for Plaintiff's Claims

 Under the PHRA, a discrimination claim must be filed with the PHRC within 180 days of the allegedly discriminatory act. 43 Pa. C.S.A. § 959(h).

 In his complaint, Martinez alleges that WPVI committed acts of discrimination against him from 1980 to 1985. These allegations must be dismissed. The 300 day period provided by Title VII and the ADEA, and the 180 day period provided by the PHRA, had long since passed when plaintiff filed his charge with the EEOC in 1993. Similarly, the claim that in 1985 plaintiff was fired for discriminatory reasons lapsed long before 1993. This claim, too, must be dismissed.

 The plaintiff's PHRA claim discrimination based on his 1993 application is also time-barred. The plaintiff first learned that WPVI had hired another candidate in a letter dated May 25, 1993. Assuming that he received the letter within one week from that date -- see Roush v. Kartridge Pak Co., 838 F. Supp. 1328 (S.D. Iowa) (holding that seven days would be considered a reasonable time in which the plaintiff was assumed to have received letter); but see Rich v. Bob Downes Chrysler Plymouth, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 733 (E.D. Mo. 1993) (establishing a presumption that a letter will be received within three days of the date it was mailed) -- the 180-day ...


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