Legal Memorandum: Sufficiency of § 1981 Discrimination Claims

Issue: When is a plaintiff’s complaint in a 1981 case sufficient?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Discrimination claim; Complaint under 1981; EEOC charge
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 839 F.2d 621; 925 F.2d 1195; 259 F.3d 493; 161 F. Supp. 2d 381
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 08/01/2006

The court is required to consider not only the allegations in a plaintiff’s complaint, but also the allegations in an EEOC Charge.  Amini v. Oberlin Coll., 259 F.3d 493, 503 (6th Cir. 2001).  In Amini, the plaintiff alleged in the complaint that he was “‘Iranian born Muslim,'” and this was the only information relating to his race—and held that the district court erred in failing to consider the plaintiff’s EEOC filing when deciding the motion to dismiss.  Id. at 502.  In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court should consider, along with the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record or other documents in the record of the case, ruled the court of appeals.  Id.  The EEOC charge, which was central to the plaintiff’s discrimination claim in Amini, should have been considered by the district court.  Id. at 503.  The charge clearly stated that the plaintiff believed he suffered discrimination on the basis of his race and national origin, id., which was sufficient to state a claim for discrimination under § 1981, id.  See also Lewis v. B.P. Oil, Inc., No. CIV. A. No. 88-5561 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 26, 1990) (construing the plaintiff’s right to sue letter as supplementation to the allegations in the complaint).

In Woods v. Graphic Commc’ns, 925 F.2d 1195, 1200 (9th Cir. 1991), the court of appeals affirmed the district court’s finding that the union was liable under § 1981 for […]

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