United States District Court, D. New Jersey
October 5, 2005.
DRAZENOVICH DON ARRINGTON, Plaintiff,
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, TEAMSTERS UNION LOCAL 177, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENNIS CAVANAUGH, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon motion by United Parcel
Service (UPS) and Teamsters Union Local 177 ("Local 177")
("Defendants"), for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on all counts of the Complaint
filed by pro se Plaintiff Drazenovich Don Arrington
("Plaintiff"). No oral argument was heard pursuant to Rule 78 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth
below, Defendants' motion is granted.
Plaintiff was terminated by UPS on April 8, 2002, for failure
to report to work and failure to explain his absences.
(Defendants' Brief in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment
("Def. Br.") at 1). During the duration of his employment,
Plaintiff was a member of Local 177. (Id.) On April 16, 2004,
more than two years after he was terminated, Plaintiff filed a Discrimination Charge ("Charge") with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the New Jersey Division on
Civil Rights ("NJDCR"). (Id.) On his Charge he claimed he was
harassed by his employer due to his age and terminated in
retaliation for his complaints to his supervisors regarding the
harassment. (Plaintiff's Charge). Plaintiff is currently fifty
years old and was forty-eight years old when the alleged
discrimination took place. (Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl. Compl.")
at 3). The EEOC dismissed Plaintiff's Charge as untimely on May
13, 2004. (Defendants' Certification ("Pl. Cert.") Ex. B).
Plaintiff then filed a Complaint in this Court on May 26, 2004,
alleging Defendants violated the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 ("ADEA"). (Pl. Compl. at 3). Local 177 filed
a Motion to Dismiss on November 17, 2004, for Plaintiff's failure
to comply with the filing requirements mandated by the ADEA.
(Defendant's Brief in Support of its Motion to Dismiss at 1). On
November 23, 2004, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in
response to Local 177's Motion to Dismiss, claiming he filed a
Charge with the EEOC first on January 23, 2002, and again on
February 9, 2002, and that in addition to his prior complaints,
Defendants also discriminated against him due to his disability.
(Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ("Pl. Am. Compl.") at 2). UPS
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on March 18, 2005, for
Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies and
failure to file a timely claim. (Def. Br. at 2). Co-defendant
Local 177 withdrew its Motion to Dismiss and joined UPS's Motion
for Summary Judgment on April 5, 2005. (Local 177's Letter to
withdraw its Motion and Join UPS's Motion at 2).
II. DISCUSSION A. Standard for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is granted only if all probative materials of
record, viewed with all inferences in favor of the non-moving
party, demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material
fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of showing
either (1) there is no genuine issue of fact and it must prevail
as a matter of law; or (2) that the non-moving party has not
shown facts relating to an essential element of the issue for
which he bears the burden. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 331. If either
showing is made then the burden shifts to the non-moving party,
who must demonstrate facts that support each element for which he
bears the burden and must establish the existence of genuine
issues of material fact. Id. The non-moving party "may not rest
upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading" to satisfy
this burden, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e), but must produce sufficient
evidence to support a jury verdict in his favor. Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986).
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. Filing a Timely EEOC Charge
The ADEA prohibits employers from discriminating against
employees over the age of forty. 29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1). The ADA
prohibits employers from discriminating against a "qualified
individual with a disability because of the disability of such
individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring,
advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation,
job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of
employment." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). Both the ADEA and the ADA
require aggrieved parties to file a Charge with the EEOC "within
one hundred and eighty days after the alleged unlawful employment
practice occurred" prior to filing a suit in federal court.
29 U.S.C.A. § 626(d). Plaintiffs filing claims in a state with an
agency for fair employment practices have three hundred days to
file a Charge. Id. New Jersey has such an agency, the New
Jersey Division on Civil Rights ("NJDCR"). Therefore, plaintiffs
filing claims in New Jersey 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 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 within the
required filing dates, the plaintiff may not institute a civil
action under either the ADEA or the ADA. 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 the ADEA or ADA 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). Under the ADEA and ADA, plaintiffs must
first file a Charge with their state agency, assuming their state
has one, and then must file a Charge with the EEOC.
29 U.S.C.A. § 626(d). A Charge is considered properly filed 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. Love, 404 U.S. at 524.
Once a plaintiff has properly filed a Charge with the EEOC, he
must wait until he receives a right-to-sue letter. Burgh v.
Borough Council of the Borough of Montrose, 251 F.3d 465, 470
(3d Cir. 2001). The right-to-sue letter indicates the EEOC has
exhausted all administrative remedies and the plaintiff may now
file a Complaint in federal court if he so chooses. Id. A
plaintiff may not bring an ADEA or ADA suit in federal court if
he has not received a right-to-sue letter first. Id. If a
plaintiff elects to file a claim in federal court, he must do so
within ninety days of receiving the right-to-sue letter. Id.
Here, Plaintiff did not submit any evidence indicating he filed
a Charge with the NJDCR, the first "avenue of potential
administrative relief" New Jersey plaintiffs are required to
pursue. Love, 404 U.S. at 523. Plaintiff did file a Charge with
the EEOC on April 29, 2004, which was dismissed because he
"waited too long after the date of the alleged discrimination to
file [his] charge." (Def. Cert. Ex. B). Plaintiff never received
a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC regarding his Charge because he filed it well after the required
filing date. Due to Plaintiff's untimely filing and his lacking a
right-to-sue letter, Plaintiff's claims for discrimination in
violation of the ADEA are dismissed.
Plaintiff's claims of discrimination under the ADA are also
dismissed. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint alleging
Defendants harassed him regarding his disability in violation of
the ADA. (Pl. Am. Compl. at 3). Plaintiff also stated he had
filed a Charge with the EEOC regarding this matter on January 23,
2002. (Id.) However, Plaintiff did not attach his EEOC charge
or a right-to-sue letter to his Amended Complaint. (Id.) In
fact, he did not present any evidence indicating he pursued any
administrative relief for his ADA claims. Furthermore, in a
letter to Defendants the EEOC stated it never received any notice
or Charge from the Plaintiff related to this matter. (Def. Cert.
Ex. G). Due to Plaintiffs failure to pursue administrative relief
and file a timely Charge with the EEOC, his ADA claims are barred
and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.
For the reasons stated, it is the finding of this Court that
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted and
Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed. An appropriate Order
accompanies this Opinion.
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