United States District Court, D. New Jersey
October 5, 2005.
TED A. McCRACKEN, Plaintiff,
HILLTOP FUEL HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING INC. et al, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENNIS CAVANAUGH, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Hilltop Fuel
Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. ("Defendant"), to dismiss all
Counts of the Complaint filed by pro se Plaintiff Ted A.
McCracken ("Plaintiff"), pursuant to 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure for Plaintiff's failure to comply with
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
("Title VII") and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act,
29 U.S.C. § 621 ("ADEA"). No oral argument was heard pursuant to
Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons
set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted.
In the beginning of February 2002, Plaintiff answered
Defendant's ad in the Star Ledger requesting applicants for an
oil burner service technician. (Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl.
Compl.") at 3). On February 5, 2002, Defendant interviewed
Plaintiff for the position. (Id.) On February 8, 2005, Defendant informed Plaintiff the position was filled.
(Id.) Three years later, on February 8, 2005, Plaintiff filed a
Complaint against Defendant, claiming Defendant violated the ADEA
by failing to hire him due to his age.*fn1 (Id. at 2).
Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss due to Plaintiff's failure to
file a Charge of Discrimination ("Charge") with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Plaintiff then filed
a request to amend his Complaint, stating that he filed a Charge
with the EEOC. (Plaintiff's Motion to Amend his Complaint ("Pl.
Mot. to Am.") at 1). Defendant has now filed a letter brief in
further support of its Motion to Dismiss, presenting a letter
from the EEOC as an exhibit that states it never received a
Charge or any information from Ted McCracken. (Defendant's Letter
Brief in Further Support of its Motion to Dismiss ("Def. Ltr.
Br.") Ex. A).
A. Standard of Review
When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), all allegations in the Complaint must be
taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Worth v. Selden, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975);
Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts, Inc.,
140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1988); Robb v. Philadelphia,
733 F.2d 286, 290 (3d Cir. 1984). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, a court may consider only the Complaint,
exhibits attached to the Complaint, matters of public record, and
undisputedly authentic documents if the plaintiff's claims are based upon
those documents. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol.
Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).
Additionally, Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Due to an understandable difference in legal
sophistication, a complaint drafted by a pro se litigant must
be held to a less exacting standard than a complaint drafted by
trained counsel. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972).
Nonetheless, a court should dismiss the case pursuant to Rule
8(a), "if a pro se complaint is so confusing or unintelligible
that no party could possibly understand or reply to it." Cole v.
Commonwealth Federal, 1994 WL 618464, *1 (E.D.Pa.); citing
King v. Fayette County, 92 F.R.D. 457, 458 (W.D.Pa. 1981);
Brown v. Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497 (1977).
B. EEOC Filing Requirements
Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to "discriminate
against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms,
conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such
individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The ADEA prohibits employers from
discriminating against employees over the age of forty.
29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1). Under both Title VII and the ADEA, aggrieved parties
must file a Charge with the EEOC "within one hundred and eighty
days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred."
42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-5(e) and 29 U.S.C.A. § 626(e). Plaintiffs filing
claims in a state that has an agency for fair employment
practices have three hundred days to file a Charge. Id. New
Jersey has such an agency, so plaintiffs filing claims here have
three hundred days to do so. These limitation periods protect the civil rights
of those promptly asserting their claims and also prevent
employers from having the burden of defending claims arising from
employment decisions made long ago. Del. State Coll. v. Ricks,
449 U.S. 250, 256-57 (1980).
The Supreme Court of the United States held that the filing
requirements set by the ADEA and Title VII are to operate as a
statute of limitations. Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, Inc.,
455 U.S. 385, 394 (1982). If a plaintiff fails to file a Charge
withing the required filing limitations, the plaintiff is
precluded from instituting a civil action under both the ADEA and
Title VII. Watson v. Eastman Kodak Co., 235 F.3d 851, 854 (3d
Cir. 2002). In addition to filing a claim within the required
time period, a party claiming their employer violated Title VII
or the ADEA may not file a claim in federal district court unless
he has first pursued the required avenues of potential
administrative relief. Love v. Pullman Co. 404 U.S. 522, 523
(1972). A Charge is considered to be properly filed with the EEOC
when the EEOC receives a written statement sufficiently precise
to identify the parties and to generally describe the action or
practices complained of from the aggrieved party. Id. at 524.
Here, not only did the Plaintiff fail to file a Complaint
before this Court until February 8, 2005, three years after the
alleged discriminatory act occurred and well after the three
hundred day requirement, but he also never filed a Charge with
the EEOC. (Def. Ltr. Br. Ex. A). Even if Plaintiff had filed his
Charge with the EEOC in a timely fashion, he still would have
filed his Complaint with this Court more than three hundred days
after the alleged discriminatory act occurred in violation of the
filing dates set by Title VII and the ADEA. There is an exception to the timely filing requirement for
continuing violations of Title VII or the ADEA. West v. Phila.
Elec. Co., 45 F.3d 744, 754 (3d Cir. 1995). This exception does
not apply in this case. Here, Plaintiff complains of one isolated
incident, Defendant's failure to hire him due to his age, which
occurred on February 8, 2002. (Pl. Compl. at 2). Plaintiff has
not claimed a continuing violation of his civil rights occurred.
(Id.). Therefore, Plaintiff cannot receive the benefit of this
Due to Plaintiff's failure to file a Charge with the EEOC as
required by the ADEA, Title VII and the Supreme Court and
Plaintiff's failure to file a timely claim before this Court,
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted. Plaintiff's Motion to
Amend his Complaint is therefore also dismissed.
For the reasons stated, it is the finding of this Court that
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted and Plaintiff's
Complaint is dismissed. An appropriate Order accompanies this
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