Seastrand v. US Bank NA et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER denying Defendant US Bank's 6 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. Signed by Judge Ted Stewart on 5/4/2017. (eat)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT U.S.
BANK, N.A.’S MOTION TO DISMISS
U.S. BANK, N.A., a nationally chartered
bank; and RALPH PACE, an individual,
Case No. 2:17-CV-214 TS
District Judge Ted Stewart
This matter is before the Court on Defendant U.S. Bank, N.A.’s (“U.S. Bank”) Motion to
Dismiss. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny the motion.
On or around October 5, 2016, Mr. Seastrand, through counsel, provided the EEOC with
a letter and attached document. The letter’s subject line read: “Charge of Employment
Discrimination in Violation of the ADEA.” 1 The attached document was titled “Charge of
Employment Discrimination,” and was signed by Seastrand. 2 The attachment included
Seastrand’s personal information, information about U.S. Bank, and a narrative of facts
surrounding an alleged wrongful termination.
On October 5, 2016, the EEOC assigned Seastrand’s matter an EEOC Charge Number
and acknowledged receipt of the documents. 3 On October 12, 2016, the EEOC generated an
Docket 14, Ex. 1, at 1.
Id. at 2.
Id. Ex. 2-B.
EEOC Form titled “Notice of Charge of Discrimination,” which recorded that John Seastrand
had filed a charge and claimed to be aggrieved by employment discrimination under the ADEA. 4
Finally, on January 10, 2017, the EEOC generated “Form 5,” also titled “Notice of
Charge of Discrimination.” 5 Form 5 was filed with U.S. Bank. Seastrand initiated the present
suit on February 27, 2017, about 145 days after submitting documents to the EEOC and 48 days
after the EEOC created the Form 5 notice.
U.S. Bank initially argued that Form 5, rather than Seastrand’s earlier filing, was the
operative “charge,” and that Seastrand therefore failed to wait sixty days before filing his
Complaint. In its Reply, U.S. Bank appears to retreat from that position, but maintains that
Seastrand has inadequately alleged that the October, 2016 documents were a “charge” under the
When an employee files a charge alleging unlawful age discrimination with the EEOC,
“the charge sets the Act’s enforcement mechanisms in motion, commencing a waiting period
during which the employee cannot file suit.” 6 The waiting period for civil actions is sixty days. 7
A failure to exhaust administrative processes in an ADEA case is grounds for dismissal for lack
of subject-matter jurisdiction. 8
Docket No. 6, Ex. 1, at 1.
Id. Ex. 2, at 1.
Fed. Exp. Corp. v. Holowecki, 552 U.S. 389, 393 (2008).
29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1).
Shikles v. Sprint/United Mgmt. Co., 426 F.3d 1304, 1317 (10th Cir. 2005).
U.S. Bank frames its argument as a 12(b)(6) motion; however, it is actually a
jurisdictional challenge. Seastrand argues that Rule 12(b)(1) provides the appropriate standard.
Typically, arguments regarding subject matter jurisdiction should be analyzed under Rule
12(b)(1). However, the Court must “convert a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss into a Rule
12(b)(6) motion . . . when resolution of the jurisdictional question is intertwined with the merits
of the case.” 9 Here, resolution of the jurisdictional issue—whether Seastrand’s October
communication constituted a notice of charge—is not an aspect of the substantive claim in his
discrimination action. 10 Therefore, Rule 12(b)(1) provides the correct standard.
Generally, Rule 12(b)(1) motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
take two forms. First, a facial attack on the complaint’s allegations as to subject
matter jurisdiction questions the sufficiency of the complaint. . . . Second, a party
may go beyond allegations contained in the complaint and challenge the facts
upon which subject matter jurisdiction depends. 11
Seastrand’s Complaint alleges that Seastrand filed a charge and that the EEOC
acknowledged receipt of that charge on October 5, 2016. 12 U.S. Bank goes beyond the
Complaint’s allegations by arguing that the documents Seastrand filed did not legally constitute a
“charge” under the ADEA. “When reviewing a factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction, a
district court may not presume the truthfulness of the complaint’s factual allegations. A court has
Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1001 (10th Cir. 1995).
See Jones v. Okla. City Pub. Sch., 617 F.3d 1273, 1277 (10th Cir. 2010) (“[T]o succeed
on a claim of age discrimination, a plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that
her employer would not have taken the challenged action but for the plaintiff’s age.”). Cf.
Wheeler v. Hurdman, 825 F.2d 257, 259 (10th Cir. 1987) (“[W]hether Wheeler qualifies as an
employee under the federal discrimination statutes is both a jurisdictional question and an aspect
of the substantive claim . . . .”).
Holt, 46 F.3d at 1002–03 (citations omitted).
Docket No. 9, Ex. 1, at 3.
wide discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve
disputed jurisdictional facts under Rule 12(b)(1).” 13 Therefore, the Court may properly consider
not only the Complaint, but the exhibits filed by the parties to resolve factual disputes on this
narrow issue. 14
The question before the Court is whether Seastrand’s filing with the EEOC in 2016
qualifies as a “charge” under 29 U.S.C. § 1626(d). There is no statutory definition of the term.
However, the EEOC regulations define “charge” as “a statement filed with the Commission by
or on behalf of an aggrieved person which alleges that the named prospective defendant has
engaged in or is about to engage in actions in violation of the Act.” 15
This definition is supplemented by Sections 1626.6 and 1626.8, which list pieces of
information that should be present in a charge. The Supreme Court considered these regulations
in depth in Federal Express Corp. v. Holowecki, and concluded that,
[i]n addition to the information required by the regulations, i.e., an allegation and
the name of the charged party, if a filing is to be deemed a charge it must be
reasonably construed as a request for the agency to take remedial action to protect
the employee’s rights or otherwise settle a dispute between the employer and the
The Court emphasized that “[t]he system must be accessible to individuals who have no
detailed knowledge of the relevant statutory mechanisms and agency processes,” and that under
Holt, 46 F.3d at 1003.
29 C.F.R. § 1626.3 (2007).
552 U.S. 389, 402 (2008).
the Act, “a charge can be a form, . . . or an informal document.” 17 The Court acknowledged that
“under this permissive standard a wide range of documents might be classified as charges,” but
that this result “is consistent with the design and purpose of the ADEA.” 18
Here, Seastrand’s filing with the EEOC was an informal document clearly labeled
“Charge of Discrimination.” 19 Seastrand’s letter contained the information required by 29
C.F.R. § 1626.6 as well as most of the information listed in Section 1626.8, including:
Seastrand’s name, address, and telephone number; U.S. Bank’s contact information; and one and
one-half pages of narrative and general allegations, including references to time periods and the
number of employees allegedly discriminated against.
Finally, Mr. Seastrand’s letter stated that it was providing information “to assist with [the
EEOC’s] investigation of his case.” 20 This—in combination with the fact that Seastrand made
obvious efforts to provide all information required by the EEOC’s regulations—shows that
Seastrand’s filing was a request that the EEOC act to protect Seastrand’s rights under the ADEA.
The fact that the EEOC notified U.S. Bank of Seastrand’s charge only after a delay of
several months is irrelevant to whether Seastrand exhausted his administrative remedies. The
Supreme Court has rejected the argument that a filing does not become a “charge” until the
EEOC provides notice of the claim to an employer, reasoning, “[i]t would be illogical and
Id. at 403.
Id. at 402.
Docket No. 14 Ex. 1, at 1.
impractical to make the definition of charge dependent upon a condition subsequent over which
the parties have no control.” 21
The Court finds Seastrand’s October 2016 documents a “charge” for purposes of 29
U.S.C. § 626(d)(1). Seastrand’s Complaint was timely filed more than sixty days after this
charge, and Seastrand therefore complied with administrative process.
Whether or not Seastrand exhausted his administrative remedies, U.S. Bank claims that
“there is no serious question that Plaintiff’s Complaint on its face is deficient in meeting the
standard to properly invoke this court’s jurisdiction.” 22 U.S. Bank is simply incorrect. The
Complaint alleges that “Seastrand filed his Charge of Employment Discrimination with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission . . . . The EEOC acknowledged receipt of the
Charge of Discrimination on October 5, 2016.” 23 The Complaint then cites to communication
from the EEOC supporting this allegation before concluding, “[m]ore than 60 days have
passed . . . and this Complaint is now properly filed under 29 U.S.C. § 626(d).” 24
The Court finds that Seastrand adequately pleaded his compliance with administrative
process; it is therefore unnecessary for Seastrand to amend his Complaint.
It is therefore
ORDERED that Defendant U.S. Bank’s Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 6) is DENIED.
Holowecki, 552 U.S. at 404.
Docket No. 16, at 2. Notably, Seastrand did not seek to invoke this Court’s
jurisdiction; U.S. Bank did. See Docket No. 2, at 1–2 (asserting in the Notice of Removal that
“claims asserted by Plaintiff in his complaint . . . raise a federal question”).
Docket No. 2, Ex. 1, at 3.
DATED this 4th day of May, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
United States District Judge
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