A man who blames his health problems on his 24-year unemployment, a decades-long jobless period he contends is the fault of the Internal Revenue Service for not hiring him as a data entry clerk, has had his complaint against the government agency dismissed by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Edmund V. Ludwig, sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was charged with determining whether plaintiff Paul Chulhie Kim could proceed in forma pauperis, and whether he could be appointed legal counsel.
Ludwig, in his Jan. 31 memorandum and order, permitted the plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis, but simultaneously dismissed the complaint and denied Kim’s request for an appointed attorney.
According to background information provided on the case, Kim had attended a job session at an IRS office in Philadelphia back in 1989, and was informed that in order to be hired as a computer data entry clerk, he would have to take a federal exam and receive a rating for a particular pay grade.
The government informed Kim that it would be selecting the highest scoring applicants for the job, and that federal employers give preference to military veterans, which Kim was.
Kim ended up getting a score of 100 on the exam, although he was never given a job interview or chosen for the data entry position, he claimed.
In a lawsuit filed on Jan. 15 of this year, Kim alleged that he has been waiting for “24 years now,” and that because of his long-term unemployment, he has suffered numerous health problems, such as “starvation, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, pneumonia, seizures, cancer [and] mental illness,” the judicial memorandum states.
Kim’s complaint also says that the plaintiff had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
In his complaint, Kim alleged employment discrimination by a federal agency, and asked the court to lift the statute of limitations because, among other things, the attorneys with whom he consulted either would not take his case or told him he did not have a case.
Kim was asking for $20 million in damages to restore his “trust in the American people and restore confidence in [his] natural United States citizenship,” his suit had stated.
In dismissing the case, Ludwig wrote that the lawsuit appeared to have been an attempt to state a claim for employment discrimination under federal law but does not reflect the basis upon which Kim believes the IRS discriminated against him.
Regardless, any claim of employment discrimination is time-barred, the judge wrote, since in Pennsylvania a plaintiff must administratively exhaust his or her claims by first filing a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 300 days of the allegedly unlawful employment practice.
Only after a plaintiff receives a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC can he or she proceed with a civil case.
“Here, the complaint acknowledges that the allegedly unlawful employment practice took place more than two decades ago and that plaintiff sought to bring a claim around that time, but apparently was dissuaded from doing so by attorneys he consulted,” the judge wrote. “Given that plaintiff has not filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, he has not exhausted administrative remedies and is far beyond the time period for doing so now.”
Ludwig wrote that even if Kim had taken the proper administrative steps and had received a right-to-sue letter, delaying the filing of his claim in federal court until more than two decades later would make the lawsuit “grossly untimely.”
Kim had acknowledged the claims were time-barred, but wrote in his filing that the statute of limitations should be lifted because Korean lawyers in Philadelphia told him he had no case, and because he suffered from exhaustion due to military training and schooling, the latter of which apparently included studying law at Harvard University.
Kim had stated that he was only able to bring suit now because of the disability benefits he has gained over time.
“It is apparent from the complaint that plaintiff was aware of the facts underlying his claims more than 20 years ago,” Ludwig wrote. “That plaintiff was unable to find an attorney to represent him and that he was advised he had no case, do not constitute extraordinary circumstances that would excuse his failure to timely assert his rights.
“Additionally, that plaintiff had to endure unfortunate personal hardships does not excuse his more than two-decade delay in filing suit.”
Ludwig did not grant Kim leave to amend because, he wrote, amendment would be “futile.”