Mandel v. M & Q Packaging Corp., 2013 WL 141890 (3d Cir. Jan. 14, 2013)

Facts: The plaintiff was a female employee of M & Q Packaging Corporation. She claimed she was sexually harassed by many management personnel at M & Q at multiple occassions, and treated unequally and less favorably than her male colleagues. She resigned due to some verbal abuse made by her male colleagues at a meeting. She did not report these harassment incidents to responsible authority according to the employee handbook before she left.

Procedural history: She filed her claim first to EEOC, and then to a parallel authority (PHRC) in PA. After being denied by EEOC, she further went to District Court. However, the lower court held that she did not exhaust all administrative remedies on retaliation claims, and then further granted partial summary judgment in favor of M & Q on several other state law claims for expiration of statute of limitations. For the existing claims, the lower court granted summary judgment favorable to M & Q. Mandel appealed.

Issues:
1. Whether the plaintiff can raise retaliation claim at the lower court when she failed to check the box of retaliation question and allege any retaliatory conducts in her EEOC Charges?
2. Whether the plaintiff’s state law claims were time barred?
3. Whether the plaintiff’s Title VII claims were also time barred?

Holding:
1. Yes
2. Yes
3. Remanded for further proceedings

Reasoning
1. She failed to check the box of fear of reprisal in EEOC charges. Her retaliation claim is thus not in the scope of EEOC charges. Even if she is a layperson, checking a box was very simple. Failure to do so barred her from making such claims at trial court.
2. In the case of dual filing, mere filing of EEOC Charge questionnaire cannot be in itself sufficient to comply with PHRA which requires complaints of filing any claim within 180 days after alleged incident. Because she filed her case with PHRC after 180 days, the District Court correctly concluded that her state law claims were time barred.
3. Her Title VII claims were not time barred because under new Supreme Court decision there is no permanency requirement to establish a continuing violation. The District Court thus misapplied the precedents and the Title VII claims were remanded. Because the plaintiff’s hostile environment claim could only be resolved after the District Court figures out the statute of limitations issue, it was also remanded for further proceedings.

Briefed by: Victor You

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