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Stogdill v. Douglas County School District No. 17

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

January 24, 2019

JILL STOGDILL, an individual; Plaintiff,
v.
DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 17, a political subdivision of the State of Nebraska, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOSEPH F. BATAILLON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the defendant Douglas County School District No. 17's (“School District”) motion to dismiss, Filing No. 11. This is an action for gender discrimination in employment brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and the Nebraska Fair employment Practices Act, § 48-1101 et seq.

         The plaintiff, Jill Stogdill, formerly employed by the School district as a teacher and guidance counselor, alleges that she was discriminated against “[b]ased on [the School District's] perception that [she] is not a stereotypical female, ” and further alleges she was forced to resign “because she was viewed by [the School District] as non-typical and engaged in a life relationship with another female.” Filing No. 1, Complaint at 5. She alleges she was treated differently and more harshly than other stereotypical males or females. Id. Attached to the complaint is an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “Notice of Right to Sue” (“Right to Sue Letter”). Id., Ex. A.

         The defendant moves for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiff's action is time barred. In support of its motion, the School District submits the affidavit of counsel, Duncan A. Young (“Young Aff.”), and attached exhibits, including copies of the Right to Sue Letter issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on January 18, 2018, and the Administrative Dismissal of the charge before the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (“NEOC”) dated February 28, 2018. Filing No. 12, Exs. E & F.

         In response, the plaintiff also submits an affidavit of counsel. Filing No. 15-1 Declaration of Terry A. White (“White Decl.”). The plaintiff contends she has complied with statutory requirements and time limits, arguing that her complaint in this action was filed within ninety days of the date the Right to Sue Letter was received by counsel. Plaintiff filed this action in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska on May 18, 2018.

         I. FACTS

         The Right to Sue Letter indicates on its face that it was mailed on January 18, 2018. Filing No. 1-1, Ex. A; Filing No. 12, Ex E. It informs the plaintiff that

Your lawsuit under Title VII . . . must be filed in a federal or state court WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of this notice or your right to sue based on this charge will be lost. (The time limit for filing suit based on a claim under state law may be different.).

Id. at 1 (emphasis in original). The EEOC Right to Sue Letter was addressed to the plaintiff at the same address, 19706 Williams Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68130, reflected in the initial charges she filed with the EEOC and is the plaintiff's current address. Id.; see Filing No. 12, Young Aff. at 2; Ex. B, Charge of Discrimination. The Right to Sue Letter states that it was issued at the plaintiff's request. Filing No. 1-1, Complaint, Ex. A, Right to Sue Letter; Filing No. 12, Ex E.

         The plaintiff submits evidence that shows Stogdill and her counsel made several requests for a Right to Sue Letter. Filing No. 15-1, White Decl. at 1; Filing No. 15-2, Ex. A-1, e-mail dated Nov, 8, 2017. The record shows that on December 13, 2017, plaintiff's counsel contacted Marilyn Koshiway at the EEOC, stating

I understand you are or were handling Jill Stogdill's charge of discrimination, EEOC# 32E-2016-00617, which was transferred to you by the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, NEB 1-15/16-6-481107.
I have never heard from you regarding the status of Ms. Stogdill's claim. I am requesting a Right to Sue Letter so Ms. Stogdill can pursue her claims.

         Please let me know the status of this request, by close of business today. Filing No. 15-3, Ex. A-2, e-mail dated Dec. 13, 2017; Filing No. 15-5, e-mail dated Dec. 13, 2017. Plaintiff's counsel states in her declaration that she never received a response. Filing No. 15-1, White Decl. at 1.

         On January 17, 2018, counsel e-mailed an investigator at the NEOC as follows: “Can you please let me know who or where at the EEOC received the NEOC file for Jill Stogdill (nee Prochaska)? We have NEVER gotten anything from them and her case is getting lost in the ...


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