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Louis v. Ruis Inventory Specialists

March 3, 2010



Plaintiff Frances Jean-Louis was discharged from RGIS Inventory Specialists, LLC,*fn1 defendant, on December 13, 2006. On December 20, 2007, she filed an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), which was dual-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC"). On March 10, 2008, the EEOC issued a Right-to-Sue letter. On June 16, 2008, plaintiff filed a pro se complaint in this court. On August 26, 2008, defendant filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. After retaining counsel, plaintiff filed an amended complaint on April 1, 2009 containing four counts of discrimination in violation of the following statutes: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Count I), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. as amended 1991; the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Count II), 42 U.S.C. § 1981; the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA") (Count III), 43 P.S. § 951 et seq. as amended 1991; and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment Collection Law (Count IV), 43 P.S. § 260.1 et seq. I denied as moot defendant's original motion to dismiss on April 8, 2009, and on April 15, 2009, defendant filed a new motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Counts I and III are time-barred.

I. Background

Plaintiff began working for defendant on January 31, 2005. Am. Compl. ¶ 5. She was originally hired as an "Auditor," but was eventually promoted to the position of "Manager." Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff was discharged from employment on December 13, 2006. Am. Compl. ¶ 19. On July 31, 2007, plaintiff submitted a letter to the EEOC alleging that defendant had engaged in discriminatory acts against her. Pl. Ans. Ex. A ("Plaintiff's Letter dated July 31, 2007"). On September 6, 2007, the EEOC responded to plaintiff's correspondence, stating that it was "not sufficient for filing a charge of discrimination" and suggesting a follow-up interview. Pl. Ans. Ex. B ("EEOC Letter dated September 6, 2007"). The interview was scheduled for December 19, 2007. Pl. Ans. Ex. B ("EEOC Appointment"). The following day, December 20, plaintiff filed a verified Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC and the PHRA. Am. Compl. ¶ 2.

Defendant moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) on the ground that Counts I and III are time-barred because plaintiff did not meet the 300-day statute of limitations for filing an administrative charge with the EEOC. Defendant contends that the Charge of Discrimination jointly filed with the EEOC and the PHRA on December 20, 2007,which was filed 372 days after plaintiff's termination, was thus untimely. Plaintiff counters that this court should treat the July 31, 2007, letter she sent to the EEOC as an administrative charge, and thus hold that the charge was timely filed.

II. Discussion

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court is required to accept "all facts pleaded as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs." Oshiver, 38 F.3d at 1391-92. A district court may review a statute of limitations defense under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss when the complaint "facially shows noncompliance with the limitations period and the affirmative defense clearly appears on the face of the pleading." Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.1 (3d Cir. 1994).

A suit alleging discrimination in violation of Title VII may be filed subsequent to (1) the timely filing an administrative charge with the EEOC and (2) receipt of a "rightto-sue" letter. Alexander v. Gardner-Denver Co., 415 U.S. 36, 47 (1974). Title VII provides that the charge must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1). However, Title VII further provides that, in states that have parallel state or local laws "prohibiting the practice alleged and establishing or authorizing the state or local authority to grant or seek relief from practices prohibited under Title VII" the statute of limitations for filing an EEOC claim is extended to 300 days. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(d).

Pennsylvania, which provides a parallel system of adjudication employment discrimination claims,*fn2 is considered one of these "deferral states." Seredinski v. Clifton Precision Products Co., Div., of Litton Systems, Inc., 776 F.2d 56, 61 (3d Cir. 1985) ("It is undisputed that Pennsylvania is a deferral state, as the PHRC's jurisdiction substantially overlaps with the EEOC's."). Accordingly, the statute of limitations for filing an EEOC claim in Pennsyvlania is 300 days. Gharzouzi v. Northwestern Human Services of Penn., 225 F.Supp.2d 514, 521 (E.D.Pa. 2002) (noting that Pennsyvlania plaintiff had "not 180 but 300 days from the date of the alleged unlawful employment practice to file his/her charge of discrimination with the EEOC"); Oshiver, 38 F.3d at 1385 ("Title VII . . . allows a plaintiff to bring suit within 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination; however, if the plaintiff initially filed a complaint with a state or local agency with authority to adjudicate the claim, he or she is allotted 300 days . . . ").

In this case, plaintiff does not argue that the December 20, 2007 Charge of Discrimination complies with the 300-day statute of limitations. Instead, plaintiff asserts that the July 31, 2007 letter she submitted to the Philadelphia office of the EEOC satisfies the requirements of an administrative charge under the federal statute and should be treated as such. Pl. Br. Opp. D. Mot. 8.*fn3 A holding that the letter satisfies the agency's requirements would put plaintiff squarely within the required deadline.

Accordingly, I must determine whether the July 31, 2007 letter satisfies Title VII's statutory requirements for the filing of an "administrative charge." The filing of a Title VII administrative charge must be "in writing under oath or affirmation and shall contain such information and be in such form as the [EEOC] requires." 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b). The charge shall also be "verified." 29 C.F.R. § 1601.9. A charge is considered "verified" when it is "sworn to or affirmed before a notary public, designated representative of the Commission, or other person duly authorized by law to administer oaths and take acknowledgments, or supported by an unsworn declaration in writing under penalty of perjury." 29 C.F.R. § 1601.3(a).

A "charge" must also contain certain information. See 29 C.F.R. § 1601.12(a). It should provide:

(1) The full name, address and telephone number of the person making the charge except as provided in § 1601.7;

(2) The full name and address of the person against whom the charge is made, if known . . .

(3) A clear and concise statement of the facts, including pertinent dates, constituting the alleged unlawful employment ...

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