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DIXON v. PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY

April 15, 1999

GREGORY DIXON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PHILADELPHIA HOUSING AUTHORITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Katz, Senior District Judge.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiff Gregory Dixon complains that his termination from his position as a mechanic for the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) was unfair. Before the court is the PHA's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) or 12(b)(6), or in the alternative for summary judgment. PHA argues that this case should be dismissed because Mr. Dixon failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with the EEOC before filing this Title VII action.*fn1

Preliminarily, the court must decide which of the proposed legal standards — that of Rule 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), or 56(c) — should be applied. Robinson v. Dalton, 107 F.3d 1018 (3d Cir. 1997), instructs that a motion to dismiss a Title VII suit for failure to exhaust the EEOC process should be treated as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion rather than one under Rule 12(b)(1). See id. at 1022.

The next question is whether the court may consider the EEOC complaint itself, which was not attached to the complaint,*fn2 without converting this to a summary judgment motion. Ordinarily a court is limited to considering the face of the pleadings on a 12(b)(6) motion, but the Third Circuit has acknowledged an exception to that rule:

  We now hold that a court may consider an
  undisputedly authentic document that a defendant
  attaches to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's
  claims are based on the document. Otherwise, a
  plaintiff with a legally deficient claim could
  survive a motion to dismiss simply by failing to
  attach a dispositive document on which it relied.

Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993) (internal citations omitted); see also Larmore v. RCP/JAS, Inc., No. Civ.A. 97-5330, 1998 WL 372647, at *2 n. 2 (E.D.Pa. May 19, 1998) (construing that rule to allow the court to consider "several exhibits to [defendant']s motion relating to the plaintiff's EEOC complaint"). The court explained,

Pension Benefit, 998 F.2d at 1196-97 (internal cite omitted). This reasoning applies to the consideration of plaintiff's EEOC complaint in the present case, and thus the court can consider it without converting the motion to dismiss to a summary judgment motion.

A Title VII action ordinarily may be brought only against a party previously named in an EEOC action. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). As the Third Circuit has explained, "The purpose of requiring an aggrieved party to resort first to the EEOC is twofold: to give notice to the charged party and provide an avenue for voluntary compliance without resort to litigation." Glus v. G.C. Murphy Co., 562 F.2d 880, 888 (3d Cir. 1977); see also Kinnally v. Bell of Pennsylvania, 748 F. Supp. 1136, 1140 (E.D.Pa. 1990) ("The purpose of filing before the PHRC/EEOC is to alert concerned parties of the opportunity for voluntary conciliation without the animosity, expense, and publicity of litigation.").

Mr. Dixon filed an EEOC complaint against his union, Firemen's and Oilers' Local 473. See Ex. B. He alleged race discrimination by the union in that it did not give him adequate representation:

  Local 473 is a predominantly white union and all
  of its officers and business agents are white. . . .
  It is common knowledge among black members that
  Local Union 473 do[es] not represent its black
  members as aggressively as it does its white
  members. . . . I believe that the union refused to
  properly represent me solely on the basis of my
  race, black[,] in violation of the Civil Rights
  Act of 1964, as amended.

Ex. B; Ex. C Att. 1.

The PHA is mentioned in the EEOC complaint, because the complaint explains that plaintiff's charges against his union stemmed from its representation of him against PHA in the proceedings that resulted in his termination from PHA. The court is aware that in some cases judges in this district have ruled that a party named in the body of the EEOC complaint is on notice even if not named in the caption of the complaint, reasoning that "Title VII must be construed liberally to prevent its jurisdictional requirement from thwarting the statute's substantive policies. . . . Naming the defendants in the charge ensures that they will know of and participate in the [administrative] proceedings, and gives them an opportunity to resolve matters informally, without further litigation." Glickstein v. Neshaminy School Dist., No. Civ. A. 96-6236, 1999 WL 58578 (E.D.Pa. Jan. 26, 1999). For example, in Kinnally v. Bell of Pennsylvania, 748 F. Supp. 1136 (E.D.Pa. 1990), Judge Pollak held that the plaintiff sufficiently complied with the exhaustion requirement as to the individual defendants, notwithstanding that the employer corporation was the only party formally designated as a respondent in the administrative complaint. See id. at 1139-40. The court reasoned that the individuals "received every indication that their conduct was being formally reviewed," because the plaintiff "describ[ed] the conduct of these individuals in the factual statement accompanying her complaint." Id. at 1140. In Glickstein, the situation was similar: the plaintiff's administrative charge technically named only the employer school district, but in the body of the complaint she cited conduct by individual defendants. See 1999 WL 58578 at *6.


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