Failure to File at EEOC Dooms Federal Transgender Discrimination Claims

In Kane v. 247 Real Media, 14-cv-2482, 2015 WL 1623832 (SDNY April 7, 2015), the court explained and applied the “administrative exhaustion” requirement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Plaintiff – a transgender woman – alleged that she was subjected to discrimination based on her race, color, gender, and national origin. Without reaching the merits, the court dismissed plaintiff’s Title VII claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because she did not first proceed at the EEOC:

[Defendant] contends that the Title VII claims must be dismissed for Plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The Court agrees. As a predicate to filing suit under Title VII, a plaintiff must first file a timely charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission[]. To be timely, a charge must be filed within 180 days of the alleged unlawful employment practice, or 300 days if the plaintiff has initially instituted proceedings with a state or local agency capable of granting relief. Upon receipt of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC, a plaintiff has 90 days to commence a civil action against the respondent named in the charge. Obtaining a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC is a statutory prerequisite to commencing a federal suit under Title VII[.]

Here, Plaintiff concedes that she did not file a charge with the EEOC prior to bringing this action. Moreover, the complaint that Plaintiff filed with the NYCCHR [the New York City Commission on Human Rights] in 2012 neither alleged a Title VII violation nor authorized the NYCCHR to accept the complaint on behalf of the EEOC. … Finally, the EEOC “Intake Questionnaire” that Plaintiff filed on October 15, 2014 – more than three years after Plaintiff’s employment with 24/7 Real Media ended – is plainly untimely.

Having dismissed plaintiff’s federal claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) over, and hence dismissed, plaintiff’s state claims under the NYS and NYC Human Rights Laws.

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