Race Discrimination Claim Dismissed as Not Administratively Exhausted at the EEOC; Not “Reasonably Related” to EEOC Gender Discrimination Claim

In Robinson v. Medical Answering Service et al, 5:18-CV-1222, 2019 WL 5653378 (N.D.N.Y. Oct. 31, 2019), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s race discrimination claim asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, on the ground that that claim was (a) not asserted in plaintiff’s EEOC filing, and (b) not “reasonably related” to plaintiff’s EEOC charge (in which he asserted a claim of gender discrimination).

The court lays out the law concerning the EEOC charge filing requirement, as well as the circumstances under which an un-asserted claim may nevertheless be addressed in a subsequently-filed federal court litigation:

As a precondition to filing a Title VII claim in federal court, a plaintiff must first pursue available administrative remedies and file a timely complaint with the EEOC. The Second Circuit recognizes exhausting administrative remedies through the EEOC as “an essential element” of an action in federal court. On the other hand, the Second Circuit has “long recognized that in certain circumstances, it may be unfair, inefficient, or contrary to the purposes of the statute to require a party to separately re-exhaust new violations that are ‘reasonably related’ to the initial claim.” Duplan v. City of New York, 888 F.3d 612, 622 (2d Cir. 2018) (quoting Butts v. City of New York Dep’t of Hous. Pres. & Dev., 990 F.2d 1397, 1402 [2d Cir. 1993], superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Hawkins v. 1115 Legal Serv. Care, 163 F.3d 684 [2d Cir. 1998]); see also, e.g., Malarkey v. Texaco, Inc., 983 F.2d 1204, 1208 (2d Cir. 1993). Title VII claims are considered reasonably related to a previous administrative complaint in three instances: (1) where the claims concern conduct that falls within the scope of an EEOC investigation that can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge; (2) where the claims allege retaliation for filing the charge; or (3) where the claims concern further incidents of discrimination carried out in precisely the same manner alleged in the charge. [Paragraphing altered; internal citations and quotation marks omitted.]

Here, plaintiff’s court complaint does not allege retaliation for filing his EEOC charge, nor any subsequent incidents of discrimination. Therefore, the court assessed “whether Plaintiff’s Title VII claim pertains to conduct that is within the purview of the EEOC investigation and whether the alleged conduct reasonably stems from the administrative charge.”

Plaintiff attempted to analogize his facts to those of another case (Deravin v. Kerik, 335 F.3d 195 (2d Cir. 2003)) in which the court held that a race discrimination claim was reasonably related to EEOC claims for national origin discrimination.

The court disagreed, noting that “the gap between gender discrimination and race discrimination is wider than the gap between national original discrimination and race discrimination”, and concluded “that, under the facts alleged, Plaintiff’s race-discrimination claim in federal court is not reasonably related to his EEOC gender-discrimination claim.”