Fuzzy Math: How 93=89 in the 4th Circuit

September 30th, 2012 by JBWK

In an interesting reversal by the Fourth Circuit, a pro se plaintiff gets to move forward with his race and age discrimination claims.

The plaintiff filed an EEOC charge and received a right-to-sue letter, a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit. Plaintiffs have 90 days from the date they receive the right-to-sue letter to file a lawsuit. In this case, the plaintiff himself alleged in his complaint that he received the letter on August 28, 2011, making his lawsuit four days late.

But the Fourth Circuit found that, based on the exhibit to his complaint, the letter actually wasn’t mailed until August 29, 2011, a day after the plaintiff claimed to have received it. Further, by adding on the presumption that mailed documents are received three days after being sent, the Fourth Circuit found that his complaint was actually filed on day 89, not day 93.

When it comes to the law, things are not always as simple as they seem.

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