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GRIFFIN v. ACACIA LIFE INSURANCE CO.
July 24, 2001
BARBARA GRIFFIN, PLAINTIFF,
ACACIA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard W. Roberts, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit alleging that her employer, Acacia Life
Insurance Company ("Acacia"), discriminated against her on the basis of
her sex, subjected her to quid pro quo sexual harassment, and retaliated
against her. Plaintiff asserted claims under both Title VII*fn1 and
District of Columbia law. Defendant has moved for summary judgment on the
Title VII claims based on plaintiff's alleged failure to file her
complaint within ninety days after receiving the Notice of Right to Sue
letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Because
plaintiff has failed to present sufficiently probative evidence to rebut
the presumption that she received the Right to Sue letter three days
after it was mailed, the Title VII claims are untimely. Having dismissed
the federal claims which provided the basis for original jurisdiction,
the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
claims under D.C. law and will dismiss those claims without prejudice
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
Plaintiff began her employment with Acacia in 1970. In 1991, plaintiff
was assigned to the Duplicating and Purchasing Department and, in
February 1992, she was promoted to Senior Copy Preparation Specialist.
During this period, she reported to Edward Elko, who reported to Arnold
Rexroad. Beginning in March 1995, plaintiff reported directly to
Rexroad. Plaintiff alleges that Rexroad engaged in quid pro quo sexual
harassment between 1991 and October 1996.
On October 25, 1996, plaintiff told Leon Stevens, a friend who was a
supervisor for Acacia, that Shirl Nevas said that Rexroad moved Nevas's
bra strap. Stevens reported the conversation to Rexroad, who reported it
to his supervisor, Richard Fedalen. Plaintiff alleges that Rexroad
retaliated against her for reporting the alleged sexual harassment of
Plaintiff was advised in March 1997 that her position would be
eliminated when the company reorganized and certain duties were
outsourced. On May 2, 1997, plaintiff was given a written warning about
poor performance based on customer complaints. On May 5, 1997, plaintiff
"went out on sick leave . . . due to stress from the workplace."
Plaintiff's Opposition to Summary Judgment, at 11.
Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. After she
received her Notice of Right to Sue letter, she filed this lawsuit.
Rule 56 is an integral part of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
recognizing a party's right to demonstrate that certain claims have no
factual or legal basis and to have those unsupported claims disposed of
prior to trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). A motion
for summary judgment is properly granted unless there is evidence "on
which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff. The judge's
inquiry, therefore, unavoidably asks whether reasonable jurors could find
by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff is
entitled to a
verdict. . . ." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986). "Summary judgment is appropriate when evidence on file shows
`that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" America's
Community Bankers v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 200 F.3d 822, 831
(D.C. Cir. 2000) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). "[A] genuine dispute
about material facts exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. (internal
quotations omitted). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477
U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations omitted).
"While a nonmovant is not required to produce evidence in a form that
would be admissible at trial, the evidence still must be capable of being
converted into admissible evidence." Gleklen v. Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee, Inc., 199 F.3d 1365, 1369 (D.C. Cir. 2000).
"Otherwise, the objective of summary judgment — to prevent
unnecessary trials — would be undermined." Id.
A person aggrieved under Title VII who seeks to file a civil action
must do so within ninety days from receipt of the EEOC right-to-sue
notice. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1); Hogue v. Roach, 967 F. Supp. 7, 8
In this case, it is undisputed that the EEOC mailed the Notice of Right
to Sue letter to plaintiff on August 7, 1997. See Dismissal and Notice of
Rights, Exh. L to Declaration of Henry A. Platt. Plaintiff testified in
her deposition that she does not know on what date she received the
right-to-sue letter and that she has no records which reflect the date of
receipt. See Griffin Deposition, at 60-61. Where, as here, the plaintiff
does not know when she received the Right to Sue letter, Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 6(e) creates a presumption that the letter was received
three days after it was mailed. Baldwin County Welcome Center v. Brown,
466 U.S. 147, 148 n. 1 (1984); Smith-Haynie v. District of Columbia,
155 F.3d 575, 578 n. 3 (D.C. Cir. 1998). Plaintiff presumptively
received the letter on August 11, 1997.*fn2 The complaint was filed
more than ninety days thereafter, on November 24, 1997.
The only evidence plaintiff has submitted to rebut this presumption is
the declaration of her attorney, Janice A. Simons. In the declaration,
Simons states that the law firm's records indicate that plaintiff first
came to the law office on August 28, 1997. Declaration of Janice A.
Simons, Exh. 9 to Plaintiff's Opposition to Summary Judgment, ¶ 3.
Simons also states that there is an entry on her calendar for November
24, 1997, which reads "B. Griffin's Complaint Due." Id. ¶ 2. Based
on these records, Simons believes that plaintiff told either Ms. Simons
or someone else in ...
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