United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND NUMBER
WILLIAM L. OSTEEN, Jr., District Judge.
Presently before the court is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint filed by Defendant The City of High Point (Doc. 19).
Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint (Doc. 16) pursuant to this court's February 1, 2013 order adopting the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation. (Doc. 13.) In his order, the Magistrate Judge properly noted that while Plaintiff's original complaint was accompanied by a prior Charge of Discrimination filed with the EEOC (Complaint ("Compl.") (Doc. 1), Ex. 2), Plaintiff had failed to attach the connected right-to-sue letter required to confer subject matter jurisdiction on this court. (Recommendation (Doc. 11) at 4.) Acknowledging the liberal pleading standard applicable to pro se litigants, the Magistrate Judge recommended, and this court agreed, that Plaintiff should have thirty (30) days to amend his complaint by attaching the necessary right-to-sue letter. (See Order (Doc. 13) at 1.) Plaintiff subsequently amended his complaint by attaching a right-to-sue letter (see Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") (Doc. 16), Ex. 1), but he did not attach the correct right-to-sue letter. The Charge of Discrimination attached to Plaintiff's original complaint, which detailed the factual basis underlying his lawsuit, is numbered XXX-XXXX-XXXXX. (See Compl. (Doc. 1), Ex. 2.) The right-to-sue letter attached to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, however, is numbered XXX-XXXX-XXXXX, and the associated EEOC Charge of Discrimination is not referenced anywhere in the Amended Complaint. (See Am. Compl. (Doc. 16), Ex. 1.)
Mindful once again of the liberal pleading standards provided to pro se litigants, see Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), this court stayed its decision on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and allowed Plaintiff a further ten (10) days to file the appropriate right-to-sue letter. Plaintiff, however, has failed to comply with this court's order: instead of filing the appropriate right-to-sue letter, Plaintiff instead re-filed the same EEOC Charge of Discrimination (No. 435-2011-00174) attached to his initial complaint. (Notice of Additional Filing ("Notice") (Doc. 24), Ex. 1; see also Compl. (Doc. 1), Ex. 2.)
Aside from noting that Plaintiff's EEOC documents are somewhat confusing, this court also observes that Plaintiff filed an amended complaint (Doc. 16) instead of simply amending his complaint to include the right to sue letter as directed by this court's order adopting the recommendation from the Magistrate Judge. The amended complaint (Doc. 16) contains some allegations similar to the original complaint (Doc. 1) but also adds a few additional allegations. Nevertheless, as explained herein, this court finds that the amended complaint should be dismissed because Plaintiff has failed to present evidence that he exhausted his administrative remedies as to the claim asserted in his amended complaint.
A. In General
As the Magistrate Judge previously explained, "[A] failure by the plaintiff to exhaust administrative remedies concerning a Title VII claim deprives the federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction over the claim.'" (Recommendation (Doc. 11) at 3 (internal citations omitted).) For claims of wrongful termination under Title VII, "the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has long held that receipt of, or at least entitlement to, a right-to-sue letter [from the EEOC] is a jurisdictional prerequisite that must be alleged in a plaintiff's complaint." (Id. at 4.) This means that a plaintiff making a wrongful termination claim under Title VII must submit or allege, at a minimum, (1) a complaint setting out the allegedly-unlawful circumstances of his termination, (2) an EEOC Charge of Discrimination demonstrating that he has sought relief for his wrongful termination, and (3) a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC demonstrating that the agency has considered Plaintiff's allegations. Each of these three documents must be related to the same alleged misconduct.
Here, Plaintiff's amended complaint states, in the most direct statement of the claim, that "I believe I was wrongfully terminated." (Am. Compl. (Doc. 16) at 2.) After making additional complaints about working conditions, Plaintiff goes on to allege that "I was called in the office, told me I was not to return on city property, Dec [sic] 16 gave me a termination letter." (Id. at 3.) Construing the pro se complaint liberally, this court finds that Plaintiff's claim is one for wrongful termination.
In support of this claim, Plaintiff has submitted the required Charge of Discrimination for a claim of wrongful termination, EEOC case number XXX-XXXX-XXXXX. (See Compl. (Doc. 1), Ex. 2; Notice (Doc. 24), Ex. 1.) That Charge of Discrimination states that Plaintiff "received notification that my employment had been terminated effective December 15, 2010" and further alleged that "I believe that I have been discriminated against in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, due to my race (Black) and in retaliation for having filing [sic] a charge of employment discrimination with the EEOC against the City. (Notice (Doc. 24), Ex. 1.)
Both Plaintiff's amended complaint and Charge of Discrimination number XXX-XXXX-XXXXX allege a claim for wrongful termination. Therefore, any right-to-sue letter Plaintiff submits must be related to the claim of wrongful termination alleged in these two documents. However, Plaintiff's right-to-sue letter, which bears the EEOC case number XXX-XXXX-XXXXX (Am. Compl. (Doc. 16), Ex. 1), does not appear to be related to Plaintiff's claim as alleged in the amended complaint. As a matter of fact, it is not clear at all what claim was the subject of the EEOC investigation and corresponding right to sue letter for EEOC case number XXX-XXXX-XXXXX, and Plaintiff does not specifically state that the right-to-sue letter is related to the wrongful termination claim alleged in the amended complaint.
Because Plaintiff has failed to submit the appropriate right-to-sue letter in support of his wrongful termination claim, this court will dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint ...