Pennsylvania District Court Ruling on Summary Judgment of USPS Letter Carrier’s Discrimination Claims Confirmed By Appeals Court as Untimely

Case Name: Glenn Harris v. Postmaster General of the US

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Date of Opinion: February 4th, 2022

Judges: Shwartz, Porter, and Fisher

Overview: USPS letter carrier filed an appeal stemming from a summary judgment motion in District Court, which concluded that his discrimination claims were untimely.

Background:  This case involves an appeal from a decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania.  The Plaintiff, Glenn Harris, was a letter carrier with the United States Postal Service (USPS). Due to allegedly inappropriate conduct, he was fired, his last day being April 22nd, 2019. After a grievance process with his union, a “Step B Decision” was ordered, stating that the effective date of his removal would be August 19th, 2019.

Harris then filed a formal EEO complaint on December 13th, 2019 and, on the same day, filed a complaint with the District Court, alleging that he was fired based on sex, disability, and sex orientation. After discovery, the District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the USPS, opining that the facts show that Harris’s claims were untimely.  Harris appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals.

The court noted that a Plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies in a timely fashion bars this claim in federal court.  The court says that the USPS were made aware of the exhaustion rule in four ways.  In addition, the court notes that the limitations period for Harris’s claim started on the “effective date” of the action and that the only date that would make his claim timely would be the date that union stated that the removal was effected, which was August 19th, 2019.

The court stated, however, that the union procedure started by Harris does not have any bearing on the “effective date” under Title VII. In the present case, USPS stated that Harris would be removed from his position on July 20th, 2019.  Harris’s contact with the EEO counselor occurred on September 9th, 2019, which happened more than 45 days after the effective date.

Conclusion:  The opinion of the District Court, granting summary judgment is confirmed by the Appeals Court.

Steven M. Cohen
Law Librarian | + posts

Steven M. Cohen is a law librarian at a midsize law firm in New York City.  He was the creator of Library Stuff, one of the first library blogs, which lasted over 15 years.  He obtained his MLS from Queens College in 2002.  His passions include legal research, reading novels, and rooting on his favorite sports teams.