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Martin v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

September 12, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hay, Magistrate Judge

Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay


Plaintiff, Charles R. Martin ("Martin"), commenced this action under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII"), alleging that defendant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections ("DOC"), discriminated against him because of his race and then retaliated against him when he complained. Presently before the Court is the DOC's motion for summary judgment in which it argues that Martin's claims are barred by the statute of limitations. For the reasons set forth below, the DOC's motion shall be granted.


Martin began his employment with the DOC in 1987 at the State Correctional Institution ("SCI") in Pittsburgh. Martin Depo., p. 10. In 1993, Martin was promoted to Lieutenant, a Corrections Officer 3 position, and transferred to SCI Waynesburg. Id. He was subsequently transferred to SCI Fayette where he remains employed today. Id. at p. 11.

In 2004, Martin applied for, but was denied, a promotion to Captain, a Correction Officer 4 position, at SCI Pittsburgh where three such positions had become available, and later denied a promotion to Captain at SCI Fayette where he had been acting Captain at the time of his application. Id. at pp. 21-23, 30. See Complaint ¶¶ 14-16. It also appears that Martin interviewed for a promotion to Major, a Corrections Officer 5 position, at SCI Fayette on April 19, 2005, and was notified on May 19, 2005, that another individual had been selected for the position. Martin Depo., pp. 35-37. See Pl. Exhs. C, D.

Subsequently, in July or early August of 2005, Martin contacted the equal opportunity officer with the DOC, Raphael Cheeky, to complain about not being selected for the Major position at SCI Fayette. Martin Depo., pp. 62-63. Mr. Cheeky apparently told Martin that he would contact the DOC's Human Resource Officer and begin an investigation. Id. at pp. 63-64. Martin testified that when he did not hear back from Mr. Cheeky, he contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Id. at pp. 69-70.

Specifically, Martin testified that he contacted the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Office of the United States EEOC, in December of 2005, but later stated that he did so, "sometime maybe November or December." Id. at pp. 52, 70-71. Nevertheless, Martin received a letter from the EEOC dated January 4, 2006, in which it acknowledged having been contacted by Martin and informed him that it needed additional information in order to determine whether the EEOC could help him. Pl. Exh. E. The EEOC also enclosed an Intake Questionnaire for Martin to fill out and explained that:

On reviewing your responses we may be able to determine whether the EEOC has jurisdiction over the matter or if your complaint contains substantive information that would warrant a charge being filed with the EEOC.

If there is a charge that the EEOC can investigate, you will be scheduled to have your charge taken in person in our office or by telephone.

Id. Martin completed the Intake Questionnaire on February 27, 2006, alleging he had been subjected to unlawful discrimination by reason of the DOC's failure to promote him to Captain or Major in May of 2005, and on April 4, 2006, the EEOC sent Martin a letter notifying him that a Representative would be contacting him by telephone on April 13, 2006. See Pl. Exhs. F, G. On April 19, 2006, the EEOC sent Martin another letter notifying him that a Representative of the EEOC would be contacting him by telephone on May 2, 2006, Pl. Exh. H, and on May 3, 2006, the EEOC sent Martin a Form 5, Charge of Discrimination, and Form 133 Affidavit to complete. Martin signed and returned the forms to the EEOC on May 8, 2006, alleging in the charge only that he had been the subject of unlawful discrimination because of the DOC's failure to promote him to Major in may of 2005. Pl. Exhs. I, J, K. On that same date, Martin also signed a form requesting that the EEOC transmit his complaint to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC") for dual filing. Martin Depo., p. 70; Pl. Exh. L.

The EEOC sent Martin a letter dated January 26, 2007, informing him that as a result of its investigation it did not appear that race was a determinative factor in the decision not to promote him to Major at SCI Fayette. Pl. Exh. M. The letter also informed Martin that he had the opportunity to "provide, in writing, any new or substantive evidence in rebuttal to the evidence and information gathered to date on or before February 7, 2007, the date this matter will be dismissed." Id. (emphasis in the original). On February 7, 2007, the EEOC sent Martin a Dismissal and Notice of Rights informing Martin it was closing its file on his claim, Pl. Exh. N, and on May 3, 2007, Martin filed the instant complaint bringing three claims against the DOC under Title VII for race discrimination based on the DOC's failure to promote him (Count I); retaliation (Count II); and disparate impact (Count III).

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is warranted only where "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). See Conoshenti v. Public Service Electric & Gas Company, 364 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2004). When the moving party has met this burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The mere existence of some evidence favoring the non-moving party, however, will not defeat the motion. There must be enough evidence with respect to a particular issue to enable a reasonable jury to find in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). See McGreevy v. Stroup, 413 F.3d 359, ...

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