• No Need to First File Claim with EEOC under Certain Circumstances
  • December 13, 2010 | Author: Paul N. Farquharson
  • Law Firm: Semmes, Bowen & Semmes A Professional Corporation - Baltimore Office
  • Marsha Plunkett v. John E. Potter, Civil Action No. RDB-10-1096 (D, Md. Nov. 18, 2010)

    Plaintiff brought an employment discrimination action against Defendant John E. Potter in his official capacity as Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service ("USPS"). She claimed that she was unlawfully discriminated against because of her disability and retaliated against in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Plaintiff was employed with the USPS from 1986 through 2010. At all relevant times, she was a general expediter at the incoming mail facility in Maryland. Following a 1990 work-related accident, Plaintiff claimed continuing and substantial injuries. Despite extensive treatment and physical therapy, she claimed physical limitations that affected her job performance. Plaintiff sought modified and limited duty assignments. Her duties as an expediter remained largely the same although with certain medical restrictions.

    Plaintiff made several complaints to her supervisors regarding accommodation requests that were denied. Further, she alleges that as a result of her complaints, unwarranted disciplinary actions were implemented. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that she was discriminated against as a result of her disability.

    Following the round of disciplinary actions taken by USPS, Plaintiff filed an informal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on January 30, 2008. After that informal complaint was closed, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint with the EEOC in September 2008. The EEOC ultimately dismissed the formal discrimination complaint on February 2, 2010 and advised Plaintiff that she had the right to sue in Federal district court within ninety (90) days of the final EEOC decision. Accordingly, the deadline for her suit was May 3, 2010.

    Plaintiff filed her Complaint with the United States District Court for the District of Maryland on April 30, 2010. Less than two weeks before the filing, on April 21, 2010, Plaintiff was advised that her employment with USPS was to be terminated effective July 5, 2010. She was considered officially terminated as of July 21, 2010. After her official termination, Plaintiff sought to add a count for retaliatory termination. Accordingly, she filed a Motion for Leave to Amend her Complaint.

    Defendant opposed the Motion to Amend the Complaint arguing that Plaintiff had not exhausted her administrative remedies with regard to her termination claim. Defendant argued that Plaintiff must file a separate EEOC retaliation complaint and go through the administrative process.

    Based on the precedent from the Fourth Circuit, the U.S. District Court held that once a party has properly filed an EEOC charge for discrimination, that party is not required to file a new charge for retaliation that was related to the claims made in the initial charge. See Plunkett v. Potter, Civil Action No. RDB-10-1096, at 6 (citing Nealon v. Stone, 958 F.2d 584, 590 (4th Cir. 1992). Accordingly, as Plaintiff had initiated her claim properly with the EEOC, she could now amend her Complaint with the United States District Court to include retaliatory termination.