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Bridges v. Kilkenny

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 21, 2017

ERIC BRIDGES, Plaintiff,
v.
SEAN KILKENNY et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          GENE E.K. PRATTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Introduction

         A deputy sheriff alleges that his former employer discriminated against him because he is a man. Title VII requires plaintiffs like the deputy sheriff to commence suit in federal court within 90 days of receiving a right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Because the complaint was filed 91 days after the deputy sheriff received the right-to-sue letter, the Court dismisses his case.

         Background

         Eric Bridges and Andrea Sovari worked together as Montgomery County deputy sheriffs. Mr. Bridges alleges that their relationship was friendly and flirtatious. He admits that he sent Ms. Sovari pictures and a video of himself that were sexual in nature.

         After receiving the sexual pictures and video, Ms. Sovari complained to the Montgomery County human resources department. An investigation ensued, and the H.R. officials concluded that Mr. Bridges violated the county's sexual harassment policy. The Sheriff's Office, led by Sheriff Sean Kilkenny, offered Mr. Bridges the opportunity to resign.

         Mr. Bridges then complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that he was being discriminated against on the basis of his gender. The EEOC sent him a right-to-sue letter on March 21, 2017. Armed with the letter, he filed this suit against Ms. Sovari, Sheriff Kilkenny, Montgomery County, and unnamed county employees on June 20, 2017.

         All defendants have filed a motion to dismiss. Because the complaint is time-barred, the Court grants the motion.[1]

         The Complaint is Time-Barred

         In Title VII cases, a plaintiff must file a complaint within 90 days of receiving a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) (“[W]ithin ninety days after the giving of such notice [by the EEOC, ] a civil action may be brought against the respondent named in the charge . . . by the person claiming to be aggrieved.”).

         Mr. Bridges received the right-to-sue letter from the EEOC on March 21, 2017, and he filed his complaint on June 20 - 91 days later. See Compl. ¶ 33. In Mosel v. Hills Dep't Store, 789 F.2d 251 (3d Cir. 1986) (per curiam), the plaintiff received a right-to-sue letter on January 2, 1985, and filed his complaint on April 3 - also 91 days later. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals unequivocally held that the claim was time-barred. Id. at 253. Mr. Bridges's complaint is similarly time-barred.

         Mosel is not alone among the published opinions of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals dismissing a Title VII complaint for being a mere one day late. See, e.g., Seitzinger v. Reading Hosp. & Med. Ctr., 165 F.3d 236, 239 (3d Cir. 1999) (“[The plaintiff] had until September 18 to file her complaint. Because she, through her attorney, did not file the complaint until September 19, she failed to meet the EEOC's ninety-day filing period.”).

         Mr. Bridges seeks to excuse his lateness in two ways. Neither is persuasive.

         First, he explains that although he received the EEOC letter on March 21, he did not show it to his counsel until one day later on March 22. In other words, the complaint was filed 90 day after Mr. Bridges's counsel received the letter. But “[t]he on-set of the 90-day period is generally considered to be the date on which the complainant receives the right-to-sue letter.” Burgh v. Borough Council of Montrose, 251 F.3d 465, 470 (3d Cir. 2001) (emphasis added); see also Seitzinger, 165 F.3d at 239 (“[T]he time for the filing of a complaint begins to run when the plaintiff has notice of the EEOC's decision, which usually occurs on the date ...


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