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Peterson v. Archstone

February 27, 2009

ANDREA PETERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARCHSTONE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard W. Roberts United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff brings this action against the corporate entity known as Archstone Communities, LLC ("Archstone") under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), see 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), see D.C. Code § 2-1401.01, et seq., alleging that Archstone discriminated against her in denying her a job. Archstone moves to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment arguing that plaintiff's complaint was untimely filed and states no claim under the DCHRA, and that she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies regarding her retaliation claims. Because plaintiff failed to pursue her retaliation claims administratively, but her complaint was timely and adequately pleads her remaining DCHRA claims, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.*fn1

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, who is over 60 years of age, describes Archstone as "one of the largest apartment investment companies in the United States," owning "over 57,000 apartment units" in several locations, including the District of Columbia. Amd. Compl. ¶ 9. According to plaintiff, "[f]orty percent of Archstone[']s portfolio is located in the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia area." Mem. of P. & A. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n"), Affidavit of Andrea Peterson ("Pl.'s Aff.") ¶ 15.

Plaintiff attended a job fair hosted by Archstone in or about November 2006. Amd. Compl. ¶¶ 11-12. An Operations Manager interviewed plaintiff and suggested that she meet a more senior manager. Id. ¶ 14. The interview with the senior manager led to an invitation to Archstone's regional office and an interview with an "Operations Manager for a 400 unit Resident/Community Manager position in [Herndon,] Virginia." Id. ¶ 16; Pl.'s Aff. ¶¶ 6-8. A Human Resources recruiter later informed plaintiff that she had not been selected for the position. Compl. ¶17.

Undaunted, plaintiff "continued to express her interest in both full and part time positions for Leasing Consultant, Concierge, Community Manager, Assistant Community Manager, General Manager, [and] Customer Service Associate," all positions for which she says she was qualified. Amd. Compl. ¶ 18; see id. ¶¶ 21-26, 29. Her search extended to positions in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. See id. ¶¶ 19-20; Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 15. Plaintiff was not asked to interview for any position, id. ¶¶ 26, 35, and she attributed Archstone's decision not to hire her to her age, then 64 years. See id. ¶ 5; Pl.'s Aff. ¶ 16.

In July 2007, plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination alleging that Archstone discriminated against her on the basis of her age. Amd. Compl. ¶ 31. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") notified Archstone of the filing of the charge on or about January 29, 2008. See Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Archstone Communities, LLC's Mot. to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mot."), Ex. 2 (Notice of Charge of Discrimination, Charge No. 570-2007-01959). Plaintiff amended the charge on or about February 18, 2008. Id., Ex. 3 (Charge of Discrimination, Amended 570-2007-01959). The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue on April 17, 2008. Compl., Ex. (Notice of Right to Sue, EEOC Charge No. 570-2007-01959). The Notice advised plaintiff that, if she opted to file a lawsuit under the ADEA, the suit "must be filed in federal or state court WITHIN 90 DAYS of [her] receipt of this Notice." Id. (emphasis in original). On July 21, 2008, plaintiff submitted her original Complaint and application to proceed in forma pauperis to the Clerk of Court.*fn2 Archstone moves under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss for failure to state a claim or for summary judgment.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff Filed Her Complaint Timely

"A civil action may be brought under this [ADEA] . . . against the respondent named in the charge within 90 days after the date of the receipt of [the] [Notice of Right to Sue]." 28 U.S.C. § 626(e). Relying on the date on which plaintiff's Complaint was "filed," Archstone argues that plaintiff failed to file her Complaint within this 90-day period. Def.'s Mot. at 4-5. By its calculation, plaintiff's Complaint is 15 days late, such that her federal claims are time-barred. Id.

Plaintiff states that she received the Notice of Right to Sue on April 25, 2008. Pl.'s Opp'n at 1 & Ex. A (date-stamped copy of Complaint). Review of the Court's docket shows that the Clerk of Court received plaintiff's Complaint and Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of Fees and Affidavit on July 21, 2008. The Court granted the application on July 30, 2008, and both documents officially were filed and entered onto the electronic docket on July 31, 2008. By the Court's calculation, the ninetieth day after plaintiff's receipt of the Notice fell on July 24, 2008, three days after plaintiff submitted her original Complaint to the Clerk of Court.

Plaintiff "is not responsible for the administrative delay associated with the Court's review of [her] application to proceed in forma pauperis." Hogue v. Roach, 967 F. Supp. 7, 9 (D.D.C. 1997); see Guillen v. Nat'l Grange, 955 F. Supp. 144, 145 (D.D.C. 1997) (finding that "the presentation of a complaint accompanied with a petition to proceed in forma pauperis tolls the ninety-day period of limitations contained in the right to sue letter"). The lapse of time between submission of her Complaint to the Clerk and its official filing and entry onto the Court's electronic docket will not be held against her.

The Court concludes that plaintiff filed her ...


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