Third Circuit: Former library guard's Title VII discrimination and retaliation claims not valid

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jul 21, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – A panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a trial court ruling on Tuesday, which said a former library guard did not properly allege claims of discrimination, retaliation, harassment and unequal employment conditions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a per curiam ruling, judges Thomas L. Ambro, Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. and Leonard I. Garth decided Suzana Vangjeli, a former municipal library guard, was not the recipient of unfair treatment based on her gender, as alleged in her lawsuit.

“Appellant [Suzana] Vangjeli commenced an action in the District Court, naming as defendants the City of Philadelphia (City) and the Free Library of Philadelphia (Library). Her complaint included claims for gender discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and unequal terms and conditions of employment, in violation of Title VII,” the Third Circuit said.

“Appellant’s claims arose from her employment as a seasonal municipal guard at the Library. She alleged that she had been discriminated against when, in 2011, two male employees were promoted to full-time positions, but she remained part-time,” the federal appellate court continued.

In response, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint – an action which was granted by the District Court.

Beginning their analysis of the case, the Third Circuit judges said the District Court were correct in ruling Vangjeli’s claims against the Library should only be considered as claims against the City itself, due to a mandate requiring all lawsuits connected to the any City department should be in its name.

“The District Court also correctly noted that to the extent Appellant sought to raise claims against individual employees of the Library or the City, Title VII does not recognize individual employee liability,” the Third Circuit said. “The District Court also correctly dismissed appellant’s Title VII claims against the City. A plaintiff bringing an employment discrimination claim under Title VII must exhaust her administrative remedies by complying with the procedural requirements set forth in 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-5.”

The appellate court noted such requirements included filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the claimed unlawful employment practice, or, if the plaintiff initially brought their claims through a state-run agency instead, within 300 days of the alleged unlawful employment practice.

“Although the events at issue here occurred in October 2011, appellant did not file her EEOC charge until December 2012. Thus, regardless of whether the 180- or 300-day deadline applies, her EEOC charge was untimely filed. The time period for filing a charge is subject to equitable tolling, but appellant did not allege facts supporting equitable tolling in her complaint or in her response to the motion to dismiss,” the Third Circuit said.

“Moreover, even if appellant had exhausted her administrative remedies, for the reasons identified by the District Court, she failed to state a claim for discrimination, retaliation, harassment, or unequal terms and conditions of employment under Title VII. Accordingly, we will affirm the judgment of the District Court. We grant appellant’s motion to expand the record,” the Third Circuit concluded.

The appellees are represented by Margaret Theranger of Kaufman Dolowich Voluck, in Blue Bell.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit case 15-3534

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:15-cv-01566

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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