Title VII Race Discrimination, Sexual Harassment Claims Dismissed Due to Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

In Poole v. EB Care at Garden City d/b/a The Bristal at Garden City et al, 19-CV-6222, 2019 WL 6352466 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2019), the court dismissed plaintiff’s race discrimination and sexual harassment claims, asserted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, due to his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.

Plaintiff (who is male) alleges, inter alia, that a woman (identified as an Executive Director) used racist language, accused him of lying, and sexually harassed him by talking to him about her sex life and touching him inappropriately. In his complaint, plaintiff did not allege that he filed a charge of discrimination with either the New York State Division of Human Rights, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and did not attach a “right to sue letter” from any administrative agency.

The court succinctly summarized the relevant law (citations & internal quotation marks omitted, paragraphing altered):

Before bringing a Title VII suit in federal court, an individual must first present the claims forming the basis of such a suit … in a complaint to the EEOC or the equivalent state agency. … The complainant must file the complaint with the relevant agency within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct and, before bringing suit, must receive a “Notice of Right to Sue” letter from the EEOC. … A plaintiff bringing a Title VII claim must file a complaint in federal court not more than ninety days after receipt of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC.

Applying the law, the court dismissed plaintiff’s claims, noting that “[p]laintiff has not indicated that he filed a charge with the EEOC or a state or local agency, or that any agency investigated and issued a right-to-sue letter” and that plaintiff filed this action “less than a month after the alleged discrimination.”

Finally, the court held that even if plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies, he could not bring his Title VII claims against individual defendants, since “[i]ndividuals are not subject to liability under Title VII” and “Plaintiff can only bring his Title VII claims against his former employer.”

All was not lost, however: while the court dismissed plaintiff’s claims, it did so “without prejudice”.