Legal Memorandum: Appropriateness of Summary Judgment

Issue: Under the rulings of the Fourth Circuit, is summary judgment appropriate in a case in which a formal complaint of age discrimination was not timely filed, even though the original complaint was timely?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Complaint of age discrimination; Limitations period
Jurisdiction: Fourth Circuit
Cited Cases: 916 F. Supp. 1193; 865 F.2d 1237; 815 F.2d 17; 683 F.2d 89; 687 F.2d 74; 993 F.2d 1537; 525 U.S. 1001; 51 F. Supp. 2d 1287; 888 F.2d 1307; 859 F.2d 534; 901 F. Supp. 1091; 145 F.3d 170; 155 F.3d 435; 732 F.2d 1441; 420 F. Supp. 244; 768 F. Supp. 1247; 929 F.2d 321
Cited Statutes: 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(e)(1); 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(2) (1999); 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(b) (1994); 29 C.F.R. § 1601.9 (1999); 29 C.F.R. § 1601.12(a) (1999); 29 C.F.R. § 1601.12(b); 29 U.S.C. § 626; 29 C.F.R. § 1626.8(b); 29 C.F.R. § 1601.3
Date: 06/01/2000

The appellate court reviews a grant of summary judgment in the defendant’s favor de novo, and must view all disputed issues of fact in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor.  Motor Club of Am. Ins. Co. v. Hanifi, 145 F.3d 170, 174 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1001 (1998); Tinsley v. First Union Nat’l Bank, 155 F.3d 435, 437 (4th Cir. 1998).  The trial court may grant summary judgment only if there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Motor Club, 145 F.3d at 174.  If the appellate court determines on the basis of pleadings and affidavits that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor, summary judgment was improper and it will reverse the lower court’s decision.  Id.

In a so-called “deferral” state such as Maryland, the Title VII or Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) complainant must file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the date of the last unlawful employment practice.  42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(e)(1); 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(2) (1999).  However, federal Title VII and ADEA law is well-established that, a formal charge that is filed after the expiration of the limitations period may be deemed an “amendment” that “relates back” to an informal, timely filed discrimination complaint.

Under Title VII, a charge must be “in writing under […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)