Addison v. Board of Education et al
OPINION, MEMORANDUM, AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's complaint, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., is DISMISSED as time-barred. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that to the extent that plaint iff has any unarticulated state law discrimination or retaliation claims against defendants, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over these claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). Signed by District Judge Henry E. Autrey on 1/17/13. (TRC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ROSALIND ANN ADDISON,
BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al.,
No. 4:12CV1601 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on plaintiff’s response to the Order to Show
Cause.1 Having carefully reviewed plaintiff’s response, the Court concludes that
her arguments are without merit and that the instant action is time-barred under 42
U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f).
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, for unlawful retaliation against defendant the St. Louis
City Board of Education, as well as individual defendants Marlene Davis and
On September 14, 2012 this Court ordered plaintiff to show cause why her
pro se employment discrimination complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
2000e, et seq., should not be dismissed as time-barred.
Carol Hall-Whittier.2 Attached to plaintiff’s complaint is a copy of an Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) right-to-sue letter, as well as a
charge of discrimination filed with the EEOC.
“[T]o initiate a claim under Title VII a party must timely file a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC and receive a right-to-sue letter.” Stuart v. General
Motors Corp., 217 F.3d 621, 630 (8th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff was required to file her
charge of discrimination with the EEOC (or with the Missouri Commission on
Human Rights (“MCHR”)) within 300 days of the allegedly discriminatory
occurrence. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(e)(1) (providing for such a period where
claims are filed with “a State or local agency with authority grant or seek relief
from such practice or to institute criminal proceedings with respect thereto ...”).
Title VII plaintiffs are required to exhaust their administrative remedies with the
EEOC, or the comparative state agency, before bringing a formal action. Tyler v.
Univ. of Ark. Bd. of Trs., 628 F.3d 980, 989 (8th Cir.2011). To exhaust
Title VII provides a remedy only against an “employer.” The Eighth
Circuit Court of Appeals has squarely held that “supervisors may not be held
individually liable under Title VII.” Bonomolo-Hagen v. Clay Central-Everly
Community School District, 121 F.3d 446, 447 (8th Cir. 1997) (citing Spencer v.
Ripley County State Bank, 123 F.3d 690, 691-92 (8th Cir. 1997) (per curiam)); see
Bales v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 143 F.3d 1103, 1111 (8th Cir. 1998).
administrative remedies an individual must: (1) timely file a charge of
discrimination with the EEOC setting forth the facts and nature of the charge and
(2) receive notice of the right to sue. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(b), (c), (e).
The complaint alleges that the discrimination occurred between April of
1987 and August of 2000, when plaintiff was terminated from her position with
the St. Louis Board of Education. Plaintiff filed her charge of discrimination with
the EEOC on June 13, 2012, or almost twelve years after her termination.
Assuming the allegations in favor of plaintiff, the charge of discrimination was
filed way beyond the permissible 300–day period. Therefore, plaintiff's Title VII
claims appear time-barred by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(e)(1) and subject to dismissal
for failure to timely exhaust her administrative remedies. In her Response to
Show Cause, plaintiff fails to provide any additional information as to why she
failed to file a timely charge of discrimination.
In Turner v. Bowen, 862 F.2d 708 (8th Cir. 1988), the United States Court
of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit explained the kinds of circumstances that can
support an equitable tolling of the statute of limitations:
Generally, equitable circumstances that might toll a limitations period
involve conduct (by someone other than the claimant) that is
misleading or fraudulent. Smith v. McClammy, 740 F.2d 925, 927
(11th Cir.1984) (Title VII case). “Equitable tolling thus far has been
allowed only in those cases where the government has hindered a
claimant’s attempts to exercise her rights by acting in a misleading or
clandestine way.” Wong v. Bowen, 854 F.2d 630, 631 (2d Cir.1988)
(equitable tolling denied even though claimant for social security
disability benefits asserted that illness prevented her from timely
filing an action in federal district court). And this court has
recognized the principle that “ignorance of legal rights does not toll a
statute of limitations.” Larson v. American Wheel & Brake, Inc., 610
F.2d 506, 510 (8th Cir.1979).
Turner, 862 F.2d at 710; see also, Hill v. John Chezik Imports, 869 F.2d 1122,
1124 (8th Cir. 1989) (noting that courts have generally reserved the remedy of
equitable tolling for circumstances which are truly beyond the control of the
plaintiff or when the conduct of the respondent has lulled the plaintiff into
inaction). Equitable tolling, however, is an exceedingly narrow window of relief.
Pro se status, lack of legal knowledge or legal resources, confusion about or
miscalculations of the limitations period, or the failure to recognize the legal
ramifications of actions taken in prior post-conviction proceedings are inadequate
to warrant equitable tolling. Shoemate v. Norris, 390 F.3d 595, 598 (8th Cir.
2004); Kreutzer v. Bowersox, 231 F.3d 460, 463 (8th Cir. 2000) (holding that
“even in the case of an unrepresented prisoner alleging a lack of legal knowledge
or legal resources, equitable tolling has not been warranted”); Jihad v. Hvass, 267
F.3d 803, 805-07 (8th Cir. 2001) (unsuccessful search for counsel could not
warrant equitable tolling).
Under these principles, equitable tolling is not warranted in this case
because the circumstances described by plaintiff are not extraordinary, nor are
they outside of plaintiff’s control. As a result, the complaint is time-barred and
will be dismissed.
Moreover, to the extent that plaintiff does, indeed, have state law claims for
discrimination or retaliation against defendant, the Court will decline to exercise
jurisdiction over any such unarticulated claims.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s complaint, brought pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., is DISMISSED as time-barred. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e5(f).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that to the extent that plaintiff has any
unarticulated state law discrimination or retaliation claims against defendants, the
Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over these claims. 28 U.S.C.
Dated this 17th day of January, 2013.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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