United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
P. MEHTA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
D.C. Water and Sewer Authority's Motion to Dismiss rests
on a single premise: Plaintiff Jeffrey Coleman's Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) Intake
Questionnaire, filed on January 18, 2017, does not constitute
a “charge” for purposes of the limitations period
under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
(“ADEA”). See Def.'s Mem. in Support
of Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 10 [hereinafter Def.'s Mem.],
at 5-10. The parties agree that, if the Intake Questionnaire
constitutes a “charge” under the ADEA, then
Plaintiff's suit is timely; if not, the action is
applicable here, the ADEA requires that an employee file a
“charge” with the EEOC “within 300 days
after the alleged unlawful practice occurred . . .” 29
U.S.C. § 626(d)(1)(B). The ADEA does not define the term
“charge, ” but the Supreme Court filled that gap
in Federal Express Corp. v. Holowecki. 552 U.S. 389
(2008). There, the court held that an EEOC Intake
Questionnaire can constitute a “charge” if it
contains three elements: (1) an allegation of age
discrimination; (2) the name of the charged party; and,
critically, (3) “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
employee.” Id. at 402. As to that last
element, it must appear to the “objective
observer” that “the filer requests the agency to
activate its machinery and remedial processes . . . .”
Intake Questionnaire easily satisfies the standard set forth
in Holowecki. Like the filer in Holowecki,
Plaintiff's Questionnaire-including his two-page
statement appended thereto-contains the following basic
factual information: Plaintiff's name, address, and phone
number, as well as those of his employer; an allegation that
he and others were the victims of age discrimination; the
number of persons employed by his employer; and a statement
that he had not sought the assistance of any other government
agency regarding the matter. Compare Id. at 404
with Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot., ECF No.
11, Ex. A., ECF No. 11-2 [hereinafter Intake Questionnaire],
at 2, 4, 6-7.
and most importantly, Plaintiff unequivocally requested that
the agency “activate its machinery and remedial
processes.” Holowecki, 552 U.S. at 402.
Plaintiff checked “Box 2” on the Intake
Questionnaire, which provides: “I want to file a charge
of discrimination, and I authorize the EEOC to look into the
discrimination I described above. I understand that the EEOC
must give the employer . . . that I accuse of discrimination
information about the charge, including my name.”
Intake Questionnaire at 4. That fact is arguably dispositive.
Following Holowecki, the EEOC revised its intake
questionnaire to include “Box 2, ” so as
“to require claimants to check a box to request that
the EEOC take remedial action.” Hildebrand v.
Allegheny County, 757 F.3d 99, 113 (3d Cir. 2014). The
Third Circuit in Hildebrand held that “an
employee who completes the Intake Questionnaire and checks
Box 2 unquestionably files a charge of
discrimination.” Id. (emphasis added);
accord Leftwich v. Gallaudet Univ., 878 F.Supp.2d
81, 91-92 (D.D.C. 2012) (finding that intake questionnaire
qualified as a charge where the employee had checked a box
similar to “Box 2”). Thus, Plaintiff's
unqualified checking of “Box 2” is itself a
request for action.
there is more. Plaintiff concluded his two-page statement
with an express call for the agency to act: “I am
requesting that the EEOC investigate the claims contained in
this supplement.” Intake Questionnaire at 7. That
sentence unambiguously calls on the EEOC to act on his
complaint. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Intake Questionnaire
qualifies as a “charge” for the ADEA's
300-day limitations period.
cases Defendant relies upon are all readily distinguishable.
See Def.'s Mem. at 6-9; see also
Def.'s Reply to Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 13, at 2-6.
Defendant's heavy reliance on Dyson v. District of
Columbia is misplaced, as Dyson, though decided
after Holowecki, does not even mention that binding
authority. See generally 808 F.Supp.2d 84 (D.D.C.
2011). Dyson therefore carries no
persuasive force. Additionally, Marshall v. Honeywell
Tech. Solutions, Inc., is wholly inapt. 598 F.Supp.2d 57
(D.D.C. 2009). There, the intake form suffered from
“significant deficiencies, ” such as failing to
name the employer; identifying the petitioner as under the
age of 40, thereby taking himself outside of the ADEA's
coverage; and missing “any detailed description of the
discriminatory conduct.” Id. at 61. The Intake
Questionnaire here does not suffer from these shortcomings.
Finally, Minter v. District of Columbia is readily
distinguishable, as the employee in that case “did not
attach a letter or separate document to the questionnaire
expressing her intention to file a claim, ” but instead
expressly asked only to “consult with a[n] EEO
Specialist regarding the possible filing of
charges.” 62 F.Supp.3d 149, 163 (D.D.C. 2014) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (emphasis in original). Plaintiff,
by contrast, expressly asked the EEOC to “investigate
the claims contained in this supplement.”
summary, Plaintiffs Intake Questionnaire meets the definition
of “charge” as interpreted by the Supreme Court
in Holowecki. Accordingly, his claim is timely.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is therefore denied.
 The Circuit's decision in
Dyson v. District of Columbia does not help
Defendant either, as that decision did not address whether
the employee's intake questionnaire qualified as a
“charge” under Holowecki. ...