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Tillackdharry v. Kerry

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 14, 2016

MaylaSaathi TILLACKDHARRY, Plaintiff,
v.
John F. KERRY, in his official capacity as Secretary of State Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         This is the Court's second ruling addressing exhaustion of administrative remedies in this Title VII employment discrimination case. In its prior ruling, the Court found that Plaintiff MaylaSaathi Tillackdharry had failed to contact an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselor within the 45 days mandated by 29 C.F.R. §1614.105(a), but that there was an issue of material fact as to whether she had proper notice of the 45-day requirement. (ECF No. 17 at 4-6.) The Court instructed the parties to conduct discovery in phases, with the first phase limited to “whether Plaintiff was actually or constructively aware of the 45-day requirement” and a second timeliness issue. (Id. at 11.) The undisputed facts now establish that Ms. Tillackdharry did have constructive notice of the 45-day requirement through a bulletin board in one of the common areas of the office. Therefore, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 52) is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Ms. Tillackdharry worked as a Passport Specialist with the Connecticut Passport Agency of the U.S. Department of State from March 2007 until her resignation on January 9, 2009. (ECF Nos. 52-4 at 6; 52-5 at 17.) Ms. Tillackdharry alleges that her resignation was involuntary and discriminatory, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (ECF No. 1 at 3.)

         According to the declaration of the Connecticut Passport Agency's EEO Counselor, Denise Blount, from 2007-2009, the Agency “maintained a bulletin board with various EEO notices in the kitchen of [the] offices…. All Agency employees had access to and exposure to the contents of the EEO bulletin board by virtue of its prominent location.” (ECF No. 52-6 at 38 ¶ 5.) Ms. Blount stated further that the bulletin board included a notice that “advised employees who wished to initiate an EEO complaint that they must do so by contacting an EEO counselor within 45 calendar days of the matter alleged to be discriminatory.” (Id. at 38 ¶ 6 (emphasis in original).) In her deposition testimony, Ms. Tillackdharry stated that she “sometimes” went into the break room with the bulletin board but could not recall the contents:

Q. When you worked for the passport agency - and I believe you mentioned this a little while ago - it was located in Norwalk at that time, right?
A. Right.
Q. That suite of offices had a kitchen area; is that right?
A. Yeah, it had a break room, a lounge, like every office.
Q. Okay. And did you have occasion to go in the break room?
A. Sometimes.
Q. Okay. Everybody went into the break room at some point or another, right?
A. Yeah.
Q. Okay. And would it be fair to consider that as a heavily trafficked area of the ...

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