Brief For Smith V U S P S And Bonilla

Length: 15 pages Sources: 15 Subject: Sports - College Paper: #44623214 Related Topics: Legal Briefs, Legal Brief, Title Vii, Wrongful Conviction

Excerpt from :

Appellate Brief Question Presented / Issue Statement

Appellant Mary Smith seeks review of the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Anytown, which granted judgment in favor of appellees, the United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) and Jim Bonilla, Regional Supervisor of the U.S.P.S., on their motion to dismiss appellant's complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies in appellant's lawsuit for gender discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII). The questions presented in that case was whether appellant provided sufficient facts to warrant tolling her claim under a theory of equitable estoppel or whether the Court should refuse to hear her claims because they were filed after the applicable tolling period. Specifically, these questions are:

Does the time limitation outlined in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) prevent Ms. Smith from bringing her claim?

2) Is the time limitation outlined in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) triggered by the last act of discrimination or when a plaintiff claims a constructive discharge?

3) Is Ms. Smith equitably estopped from bringing her claim?


Jurisdiction of this Court is invoked under Section 1291, Title 28, United States Code, as an appeal from a final judgment of conviction and sentence in the United States District Court for the District of Anytown. Notice of appeal was timely filed in accordance with Rule 4(b) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

Statutory Provisions Involved

Does the time limitation outlined in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) prevent Ms. Smith from bringing her claim? If so, does the exception in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(2) apply?

Standard of Review

The standard of review refers to the deference that the appellate court gives to the lower court's decisions and is a question of federal procedure, which is governed by federal law. Freund v. Nycomed Amersham, 347 F.3d 752, 762 (9th Cir. 2003). The Court is being asked to determine whether the appellant's case is moot, which depends on the Court's interpretation of two statutes and the court's determination if the judicial principle of equitable estoppel would apply to bar the application of the statute of limitations. Questions of mootness, statutory interpretation, and the application of equitable relief are all questions of law, not questions of fact, triggering the use of the de novo standard of review. The use of the de novo standard of review, which is the highest standard of review, to resolve questions of law has been explained by the Supreme Court as follows:

District judges preside alone over fast-paced trials: Of necessity they devote much of their energy and resources to hearing witnesses and reviewing evidence. Similarly, the logistical burdens of trial advocacy limit the extent to which trial counsel is able to supplement the district judge's legal research with memoranda and briefs. Thus, trial judges often must resolve complicated legal questions without benefit of extended reflection or extensive information. ... Courts of appeals, on the other hand, are structurally suited to the collaborative juridical process that promotes decisional accuracy. With the record having been constructed below and settled for purposes of the appeal, appellate judges are able to devote their primary attention to legal issues." Salve Regina College v. Russell, 499 U.S. 225, 231-32 (1991).

Statement of Case / Statement of the Facts

Appellant worked for U.S.P.S. as a full-time mail carrier between May 2011 and August

2014 after having been hired by former Regional Supervisor Chandler Bing. In November 2011, appellant was relocated to another region for poor performance on her assigned route, and U.S.P.S. put appellee Bonilla in charge of Plaintiff's work. Appellant alleged gender discrimination by appellee Bonilla, including his failure to issue her a pay raise because she should find a man to support her and failure to upgrade her to a more senior route. In July 2013, appellant began to complain to appellee U.S.P.S.'s Human Resources Manager, Edith Lehr. Lehr initiated an investigation into appellee's conduct. However, Lehr was in a sporadic romantic relationship with appellee Bonilla and discouraged appellant's active pursuit of a misconduct claim. Appellee Bonilla continued to describe appellant's work as a "man's job," assigned her menial tasks, and even delivered a speech at a company picnic talking about appellant's need to find a husband and quit the workforce. Appellant quit her job on August 6, 2014.

On September 16, 2014, appellant met with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) counselor to discuss appellee Bonilla's conduct throughout her employment. The...


Appellant filed a charge of gender discrimination against appellees, with the EEOC on September 19, forty-five days after quitting her job. By October 10, 2014, appellant received a notice from the EEOC that her complaint was being rejected on the grounds that she waited more than forty-five days after the last alleged discriminatory act by appellee Bonilla to contact an EEOC counselor. On December 18, 2014 Smith filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Anytown, alleging that appellee Bonilla had discriminated against her on the basis of her gender, that he created a hostile work environment for her, and that as a result, she suffered a constructive discharge from her employment. Smith filed the same claims against appellee U.S.P.S. under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Appellees filed a motion to dismiss appellant's claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The lower court granted judgment in favor of appellees.
Summary of the Argument

The lower court did not err when it granted summary judgment in favor of appellees because the claim was barred by the statute of limitation, laches prevented the appellant from bringing older claims, and equitable estoppel did not apply to bar the statute. Although appellant filed her complaint with the EEOC within 45 days of ending her employment with appellee U.S.P.S., she did not file her complaint with 45 days of the last alleged act of discrimination. The time limitation outlined in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) is triggered by the last act of discrimination, not when a plaintiff claims a constructive discharge. Therefore, the time limitation outlined in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) prevented appellant from bringing her claim? Furthermore, appellant is equitably estopped from bringing her claim, because nothing the appellees did was responsible for her delay and she did not meet the exceptions contained in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(2). Specifically:

A. In this case the limitations period was triggered by last act of discrimination and not the constructive discharge because appellant failed to allege a pattern of behavior that would constitute continuing discrimination after her last alleged act of discrimination.

B. Because the statute of limitations was triggered by the last act she cannot bring a continuing violations claim. While this result deprives the appellants of an opportunity to have her legal claims heard, the 45 day period was designed to improve efficiency and prevent forcing employers from litigating stale claims, where evidence could be difficult to gather.

C. While there is some support in case law for the idea that a constructive discharge that is the result of gender-based discrimination is, in and of itself, an act of discrimination, a constructive discharge, alone, is not sufficient to demonstrate ongoing discrimination. Plaintiffs can allege that a constructive discharge is the result of a pattern of discrimination, but must provide factual support for that pattern that is ongoing at the time of the constructive discharge. Allowing plaintiffs to claim the date of an alleged constructive discharge as the date of the last occurrence of discrimination would defeat the purpose of the statute of limitations, bringing back continuing violations that would invite the introduction of the type of stale evidence that the statute seeks to avoid. Furthermore, it would allow a plaintiff alleging constructive discharge to claim harassment even if an employer remedied the harassment, if the employer fired the plaintiff for any reason or the plaintiff decided to leave the employer for any reason at any time after an act of discrimination.

D. Appellee U.S.P.S.'s claim of equitable estoppel is valid defense because actions of Postal Service did not delay plaintiff from pursuing claim.

E. There is no evidence suggesting that the statutory exceptions outlined in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(2) applied to the scenario. Appellant was aware of the statutory time limits contained in 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) and has failed to allege that appellees engaged in behavior that would have prevented her from bringing her claim within that statutory time period.


29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1) provides the time limits for initiating contact with the EEOC in order to preserve a claim against an employer. Under 29 C.F.R. § 1614.105(a)(1), "Aggrieved persons who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information must consult a Counselor prior to filing a complaint in order to try to informally resolve the matter. (1) An aggrieved person must initiate contact with a Counselor within 45 days of the date of the matter alleged to be discriminatory or, in the case of personnel action, within 45 days…

Sources Used in Documents:

Resources professional, Lehr, was very negative about the possibility of a favorable outcome for appellant. She repeatedly informed appellant that appellee Bonilla was well-liked by the people at the company and actively encouraged appellant to drop her complaint against appellee Bonilla. Moreover, Lehr was involved in a romantic relationship with appellee Bonilla, which was known to the appellant during the time of the investigation.

While it may seem egregious that appellee U.S.P.S. would allow a human resources professional who was engaged in a romantic relationship with an employee to conduct an investigation into that employee's behavior, the egregious nature of those allegations actually works against appellant's claim of equitable estoppel. If appellee Bonilla had engaged in a secret affair with Lehr, which appellant only uncovered after the limitations period had expired, then estoppel might apply to him. If appellee U.S.P.S. had been aware of the affair, but hidden it from appellant, then estoppel might apply to it. On the contrary, appellant's own allegations suggest that the romantic relationship between Lehr and appellee Bonilla was known during the course of the investigation. Therefore, the Court has to look at whether a reasonable person, under those same circumstances, would have believed that an investigation into appellee Bonilla would have resulted in a favorable outcome for appellant. Clearly, a reasonable person would have had, at the very least, grave misgivings about the outcome of such an investigation and would not have relied upon the fact that an investigation was occurring to prevent her from filing a discrimination claim.

The only other possible source of an estoppel claim is the fact that appellant met with a counselor who failed to file her employment discrimination claim against appellees. Perhaps the facts support a filing of a discrimination claim and the counselor's behavior was inappropriate. Moreover, it is possible that appellant believed that her discussion with the counselor would lead to a claim being filed within the statutory period, although her decision to delay speaking with a counselor until the statutory period had almost expired seems as if she was not protecting her rights. However, the question is whether the appellees engaged in behavior that would have prevented her from filing her claim. Even if the counselor's behavior kept appellant from filing a private lawsuit, there is no reason to believe that appellees were, in any way responsible for the counselor's behavior. They cannot be equitably estopped from bringing a statute of limitations defense by the behavior of a third party who was not under their control.

When examining equitable estoppel, it is also appropriate to look at laches. Laches is the "negligent and unintentional failure to protect one's rights." Elvis Presley Enter., v. Elvisly Yours, Inc., 936 F.2d 889, 894 (6th Cir. 1991). Laches has two elements. First, there must be an unreasonable delay in asserting one's rights and second, there must be prejudice to the defending parties. EEOC v. Watkins Motor Lines, Inc., 463 F.3d 436, 437 (6th Cir. 2006). The Court has specifically held that employers can use a laches defense when faced with discrimination claims; "in addition to other equitable defenses, therefore, an employer may raise a laches defense, which bars a plaintiff from maintaining a suit if he unreasonably delays in filing a suit and as a result harms the defendant." National R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 121-122.

Appellant would like to characterize her request for equitable estoppel in such a way that it appears that she is barred by just a few days from bringing her discrimination claim. In some ways this is true, but she also wants to allege a systemic pattern of discriminatory behavior by appellee Bonilla that goes back for years of employment. She failed to file her claim, either as a lawsuit or with the EEOC during that extended period of harassment. Moreover, she acknowledges that she was only transferred to appellee Bonilla's supervision after an unfavorable review when she was in another position. It certainly appears that her employment behavior for several years would be at issue in the lawsuit and that appellees would need to be able to provide substantiation of their claims about her behavior, particularly claims made in her employment evaluations, as part of their defense. The time delay in bringing suit would make this much more difficult for appellees.

Cite this Document:

"Brief For Smith V U S P S And Bonilla" (2015, October 05) Retrieved October 4, 2023, from

"Brief For Smith V U S P S And Bonilla" 05 October 2015. Web.4 October. 2023. <>

"Brief For Smith V U S P S And Bonilla", 05 October 2015, Accessed.4 October. 2023,

Related Documents
Trial Brief: Nlv V. Eco Nlv Laboratories,
Words: 325 Length: 1 Pages Topic: Business - Law Paper #: 11454957

Trial Brief: NLV v. Eco NLV Laboratories, Inc. v. Eco Compliance Corporation Whether an existing dispute over an agreement should have precluded summary judgment. SUBSTANTIVE FACTS: NLV appealed the summary judgment, claiming that no accord and satisfaction could have existed unless full payment was received. NLV argued that the mere existence of a dispute should have precluded a summary judgment. PROCEDURAL FACTS: NLV Laboratories billed Eco Compliance $42,754.50 for services rendered Eco Compliance sent a check for $13,531.19,

Trial by Franz Kafka the Human Sense
Words: 584 Length: 2 Pages Topic: Literature Paper #: 31993016

Trial" by Franz Kafka The human sense of justice in "The Trial" by Franz Kafka The field of literature is filled with stories depicting human suffering in both explicit and implicit forms, which made the readers empathize or react to the horrors depicted in these illustrations of suffering. However, there is a far more horrific portrayal of human suffering, and this is the experience of injustice in one's life. In the

Trial by Franz Kafka Is
Words: 3521 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Business - Law Paper #: 9971517

He is taken outside, where the fresh air revives him. In this Chapter, K. suffers two types of defeat; first the defeat of his aborted sexual conquest that would ultimately be a victory over the Magistrate, and secondly the defeat of the air making him unable to go the Court offices. He is physically unable to be in the vicinity of the Court, and therefore unable to attempt to

Brief This Case Miranda V. Arizona
Words: 1201 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Business - Law Paper #: 66662340

Miranda v. Arizona. 384 U.S. 436 (1966) This case was first brought in district court against Ernest Miranda after a rape investigation led authorities to question him. Under questioning, Miranda admitted to raping a young girl and signed a written confession. The case was heard in Phoenix district court and Miranda was adjudicated as guilty. The Arizona Supreme Court rejected Miranda's appeal, finding him guilty once again. The U.S. Supreme Court

Civil Disobedience the Trial of Socrates the
Words: 1490 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy Paper #: 24942342

Civil Disobedience The Trial of Socrates The Athenians suffered a crushing defeat in 404 B.C.E. with the end of the Peloponnesian War. A Spartan occupation force controlled the city, and instituted the rule of the Thirty Tyrants to replace Athenian democracy. While a form of democracy was reinstated it lacked the acceptance of ideas and freedom of speech that had been such an integral part of Athenian society (Rogers). In Athens at this

Action Decision Brief What You
Words: 4284 Length: 16 Pages Topic: Military Paper #: 81245283

3 16 JTF JFACC JFLCC JFSOCC JFMCC Yellow MOD Coordination TACON OPCON COCOM XX ESG CSG SAG MPS PATRON SAG Amphib X SF NSWTG PSYOPS JSOAC AETF AEF ASOG Yellow Patrol Boats COA 1 Task Force Command Level Major Subordinate Element (MSE) Level MSE Subordinate Units Level Depict Command Relationships X XX Yellow JTF-50 COA Presentation Format DJMO C340 EXERCISE MATERIAL Reading C340.3 17 Phase I-Deter Air and naval strikes, in coordination with Sof and Marine for Operation theater entry. Additional forces are brought to the shore whenever it is necessary. With control area being denied to enemy forces That could be of a big threat to mine clearing operations. With central areas denied to enemy forces that could threaten other