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Smith v. Council 13 AFSME

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 2, 2018

COUNCIL 13 AFSME, et al., Defendants.

          CONNER, J.


          JOSEPH F. SAPORITO, JR., United States Magistrate Judge

         This is a pro se employment discrimination case. The plaintiff, Marilyn Marie Smith, claims that the defendants violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. Smith has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons set forth below, we recommend that the matter be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         I. Background

         The complaint itself in this case is vague and incoherent. (Doc. 1). Taken together with two subsequent letters submitted by the plaintiff, Smith appears to assert Title VII employment discrimination claims related to her employment at Harrisburg State Hospital between 1999 and 2006.[1] (Doc. 6; Doc. 7). Neither the complaint nor her supplemental letter submissions allege that she has exhausted administrative remedies.

         II. Legal Standard

         A plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is subject to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), which provides that a court “shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). “The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2) is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Brodzki v. Tribune Co., 481 Fed. App'x 705, 706 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam). Rule 12(b)(6), in turn, authorizes a defendant to move to dismiss for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “Under Rule 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss may be granted only if, accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a court finds the plaintiff's claims lack facial plausibility.” Warren Gen. Hosp. v. Amgen, Inc., 643 F.3d 77, 84 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)). Although the Court must accept the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, it is not compelled to accept “unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, or a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Morrow v. Balaski, 719 F.3d 160, 165 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir. 2007)). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court may consider the facts alleged on the face of the complaint, as well as “documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.” Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).

         III. Discussion

         The plaintiff has failed to allege that she satisfied the precondition to suit under Title VII-prior submission of her employment discrimination claim to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (“PHRC”), nor has she alleged that she has received a “right to sue” letter from either agency. See generally Hornsby v. U.S. Postal Serv., 787 F.2d 87, 90 (3d Cir. 1986) (“A complaint does not state a claim upon which relief may be granted unless it asserts the satisfaction of the precondition to suit specified by Title VII: prior submission of the claim to the EEOC (or a state conciliation agency) for conciliation or resolution.”)

         Exhaustion under Title VII requires both consultation with an agency counselor and filing a formal EEOC complaint within the required time. Robinson v. Dalton, 107 F.3d 1018, 1021 (3d Cir. 1977); see also Ebbert v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 319 F.3d 103, 115 n.14 (3d Cir. 2003). The aggrieved person is not permitted to bypass the administrative process. Ostapowicz v. Johnson Bronze Co., 541 F.2d 394, 398 (3d Cir. 1976). The jurisdictional prerequisites to the filing of a suit under Title VII are the filing of charges with the EEOC and the receipt of the notice of the right to sue letter. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 798- 99 (1973); Ostapowicz, 541 F.2d at 398; Tlush v. Mfrs. Res. Ctr., 315 F.Supp.2d 650, 655 (E.D. Pa. 2002) (attainment of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC is a condition precedent to filing Title VII suits).

         Because the complaint does not allege the exhaustion of administrative remedies before the EEOC or PHRC, we recommend that the action be dismissed with leave to amend. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).

         IV. Recommendation

         For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that:

         1. The plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1; see also Doc. 6; Doc. 7) be DISMISSED for failure to state a claim, ...

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