United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
PERCY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
The Dufresne Spencer Group, LLC d/b/a Ashley Furniture Home
Store and Jeff Rogers (“Defendants”) have moved
for summary judgment on Plaintiff's Title VII claims and
request that the Court decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims and
dismiss the Complaint in its entirety. Docket 26. Defendants
claim that Plaintiff has failed to exhaust her administrative
remedies and is therefore barred from pursuing her claims in
this court. Docket 27. Because both parties have consented to
a magistrate judge conducting all the proceedings in this
case as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the undersigned
has the authority to issue this opinion. Docket 14. After due
consideration, the Court is ready to rule.
and Procedural Background
Tina Ray (“Plaintiff”) filed her Complaint
against Defendants on April 10, 2017. Docket 1.
Plaintiff's Complaint seeks damages for Defendants'
alleged violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964. Docket 1. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges four separate
causes of action identified as follows: (1) hostile work
environment; (2) assault and battery; (3) quid pro quo; and
(4) intentional infliction of emotional distress.
to filing her Complaint, on November 4, 2016, Plaintiff
submitted an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Intake
Questionnaire outlining the alleged discrimination against
Defendants and providing a detailed narrative account of
“willful sexual harassment (sex discrimination) in
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964.” Docket 28-1 at 17-23. Both the intake
questionnaire and the narrative account bear Plaintiff's
handwritten signature. Id. at 20, 22. In
Plaintiff's summary, she states “I am seeking
damages, back pay, all benefits owed, reinstatement, or in
the alternative, front pay.” Id. at 22. On
November 10, 2016, the EEOC notified Defendants that an
employment discrimination charge had been filed against them
and advised that “a perfected charge (EEOC Form 5) will
be sent to you once it has been received from the Charging
Party.” Id. at 10-11.
correspondence dated December 8, 2016, the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notified Plaintiff that
“the document that you submitted to us [i.e.
the intake questionnaire] constitutes a charge of employment
discrimination” and that Plaintiff's employer had
been notified that she “filed a charge.”
Id. at 8. The December 8, 2016 letter requests that
Plaintiff sign the Charge of Discrimination form attached and
explains that the signed form must be received “before
we initiate an investigation.” Id. The letter
clarifies that “for purposes of meeting the deadline
for filing a charge, the date of your original signed
document will be retained as the original filing date.”
Id. Plaintiff states that she did not receive this
letter until after the EEOC dismissed her case on January 11,
2017. Docket 30-1 at 1.
January 11, 2017, the EEOC sent Plaintiff a Dismissal and
Notice of Rights informing Plaintiff that its file on her
charge was being closed for “failure to
cooperate.” Docket 28-1 at 1. The notice states:
This will be the only notice of dismissal and of your right
to sue that we will send you. You may file a lawsuit against
the respondent(s) under federal law based on this charge in
federal or state court. Your lawsuit must be filed
WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of this
notice; or your right to sue based on this charge
will be lost.”
Id. Consequently, on April 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed
her Complaint in this action. Docket 1.
states that upon receiving the Dismissal and Notice of
Rights, she requested reconsideration which was denied in
correspondence dated June 26, 2017. Docket 31 at 4; 30-5 at
1. This correspondence states “you have the right to
file a complaint in court based on your charge of
discrimination. You must file your complaint in court within
90 days of the date on which you received the Dismissal and
Notice of Rights.” Docket 30-5 at 1.
Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment alleging
that Plaintiff is barred from filing suit because she failed
to perfect her Charge of Discrimination, Plaintiff submitted
the signed Charge of Discrimination on September 7, 2017.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a party is entitled to
summary judgment “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). On a motion
for summary judgment, the movant has the initial burden of
showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Id. at 325. Under Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, the burden then shifts to the non-movant to
go beyond the pleadings and “by ... affidavits, or by
the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions
on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Celotex Corp., 477
U.S. at 324. That burden is not discharged by mere
allegations or denials. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
all legitimate factual inferences must be viewed in the light
most favorable to the non-movant, Rule 56(c) mandates the
entry of summary judgment “against a party who fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. Before
finding that no genuine issue for trial exists, the court
must first be ...