Payan v. Aramark Mgmt. Services Ltd. P’ship, 495 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2007)

In response to a charge of discrimination and retaliation that Martha E. Payan filed with the EEOC, the agency issued a right-to-sue letter on September 26, 2003. Payan asserted that the date she received the letter was “unknown.” However, it was undisputed that she failed to file her Title VII complaint in federal court until January 2, 2004 – 98 days after the EEOC had issued the letter. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1), Payan had only 90 days in which to file the action, which Aramark contended barred her claim. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal on summary judgment of Payan’s claim after presuming that Payan received the right-to-sue letter by mail no later than three days after the EEOC had issued it. Compare Holland v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 154 Cal. App. 4th 940 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 29, 2007) (summary judgment in favor of employer reversed where employee said he relied upon DFEH’s oral assurance that timely submission of a precomplaint questionnaire would satisfy the filing deadline); Forester v. Chertoff, 500 F.3d 920 (9th Cir. 2007) (dismissal of discrimination claims filed by U.S. Border Patrol agents vacated even though they failed to wait 30 days after filing a notice of intent to sue with the EEOC before filing suit).