News from the Supreme Court: On April 27, 2015, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal in Green v. Donahoe. The appeal seeks to resolve a split in the courts regarding how to calculate deadlines for federal sector EEO complaints.
In most cases, federal employees are required to initiate their EEO complaints within 45 calendar days of the date of the alleged discrimination. The issue in Green is how to calculate that deadline when dealing with constructive discharge claims (cases where alleged discrimination forced an employee to resign or retire–and thus was tantamount to an involuntary removal).
Mr. Green worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Colorado. After alleged discrimination, Mr. Green claimed that he was forced to retire in 2010. Mr. Green retired pursuant to a settlement agreement he signed in December 2009 under which he would either retire by a certain deadline, or else be demoted and transferred to a position 300 miles away in Wyoming. Mr. Green filed his retirement papers in early February 2010, and contacted the EEO office a few days before the effective date of his retirement in March 2010 to claim constructive discharge. Mr. Green ultimately took his claims into federal district court, which granted summary judgment on that claim on the grounds that Mr. Green’s contact to the EEO office was untimely. Mr. Green appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which affirmed the summary judgment decision in 2014 (Green v. Donahoe, 760 F.3d 1135). The Supreme Court has now granted Mr. Green’s request that they hear the case (‘petition for writ of certiorari’).
The specific deadline issue for Mr. Green is whether the 45-calendar-day deadline for his appeal should be calculated from the date of retirement, or from the date of the last discriminatory action by the Postal Service–in this case the December 2009 settlement agreement. A circuit split exists on this issue. Five of the 13 federal circuit courts of appeal follow Mr. Green’s interpretation. The 10th Circuit and two other circuits follow the Postal Service’s interpretation. The task before the Supreme Court is to resolve this circuit split and to set a uniform rule for assessing the timelines of federal sector EEO claims of constructive discharge.
If you are a federal employee with a discrimination complaint, and wish to discuss your rights, please consider contacting Passman & Kaplan, P.C. to request an initial consultation.