The day a plaintiff receives notice from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of their right to sue, the ninety-day period to file a lawsuit begins, not the date the plaintiff (or the plaintiff’s attorney) opens the link to the letter of right to sue, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On May 24, 2022, at Paniconi v. Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, the court granted the employer’s motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to file a statement of claim because the lawsuit was filed a day too late. The court ruled that plaintiff Denise Paniconi, who filed a racial and religious discrimination lawsuit in federal court ninety-one days after the EEOC sent her a letter of right to sue, could not not pursue his legal action.
Receipt of an e-mail constitutes notification of its content.
The court found that Paniconi “received” the notice of right to sue the day the EEOC sent him an email notifying him of an “important document.” Paniconi had to follow a link and log into the portal on the EEOC’s website to access the document, which was his notice of right to sue. The court calculated the ninety-day period to file a lawsuit from the date she received the email, not from the date her lawyer opened the link and actually saw the letter of right to sue. Paniconi’s filing of a lawsuit ninety-one days after receiving the EEOC email was a day too late.
The ninety-day window acts as a statute of limitations
The court held that because the ninety-day time limit for bringing a lawsuit “‘is akin to a statute of limitations'”, it could not be imposed in the absence of a reason. fair. The court ruled that failure to open a link in an EEOC email was not a fair reason.
The three-day mailbox rule does not apply to emails
The court rejected Paniconi’s argument that the three-day “mailbox rule” (a grace period allowing three days for mail delivery) should apply to the ninety-day calculation from which a charging party receives an email notification of a right to sue letter from the EEOC. The three-day rule did not apply because there was no dispute over when Paniconi’s attorney received the email from the EEOC containing the link to the letter of right to sue, a said the court.
© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 162