62 F.3d 1244 (9th Cir. 1995), 94-15514, Girard v. Rubin
|Citation:||62 F.3d 1244|
|Party Name:||95 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6488, 95 Daily Journal D.A.R. 11,080 Norman C. GIRARD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Robert RUBIN [*], Secretary of the Treasury, Defendant-Appellee.|
|Case Date:||August 17, 1995|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit|
Argued and Submitted July 14, 1995.
Norman C. Girard, Aptos, CA, pro se.
Ann M. O'Regan, Office of the U.S. Atty., San Francisco, CA, and Jocelyn Burton, Office of the U.S. Atty., San Jose, CA, for appellee.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Before: SNEED, CANBY, and FERNANDEZ, Circuit Judges.
FERNANDEZ, Circuit Judge:
Norman C. Girard appeals the district court's summary judgment in favor of the Secretary of the Treasury on the ground that Girard failed to file his Title VII and age discrimination claim within the relevant statute of limitations. Girard alleged that he was wrongfully denied two Internal Revenue Service management positions in 1984 and 1985 because he had been removed from a management selection program on account of his sex, race, and age. We reverse.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Norman C. Girard, a white male, was 46 years of age at the time of the relevant events. He is a Revenue Officer for the Internal Revenue Service at the Santa Cruz Branch Office in Santa Cruz, California. In October, 1983, Girard applied for and was accepted into the Regional Management Careers Program (RMCP). The purpose of the RMCP is to create a pool of well-qualified candidates who have been recommended for management positions. RMCP members who are rated qualified for positions covered by the program are automatically referred for consideration when vacancies occur. A local screening panel reviews and rates candidates to determine which ones will be recommended to the head of the office as highly qualified. When a managerial position is announced, RMCP participants have the "first shot" at filling it. If it is not filled by an RMCP participant, the office may announce the position as subject to an ad hoc nationwide search; RMCP members may re-interview for the ad hoc position along with non-RMCP applicants. Membership in the RMCP lasts for one year. The application process begins in October and is usually complete by the following January. A current participant may "roll over" into membership for the following year by filing out an application; this eliminates the need for participants to re-interview for a spot in the program.
In 1984, there were two Supervisory Revenue Officer RMCP positions advertised in the San Jose District where Girard worked. One was in Salinas and the other was in San Jose. Girard interviewed for the Salinas position in September 1984. He was told that because his interview was less than adequate he was not selected for the position. The Salinas position was eventually filled on January 6, 1985, by Deborah Treece, a 34-year-old white female.
Girard alleges that on or about November 1, 1984, Frank Nixon, Girard's Field Branch Chief, called him to tell him that he was removing him from the RMCP. Nixon denies that that ever happened. Instead, Nixon claims that Girard failed to comply with the "roll over" procedures to be a participant in the RMCP for 1985. Girard, for his part, considered himself removed from the RMCP as of November 1984.
On February 17, 1985, Liz Sanchez was selected for the San Jose Revenue Officer position. She is an Hispanic female who was 26 years of age at the time. Girard was not considered for that position because he was not an RMCP participant in 1985.
On July 30, 1987, the IRS sent a letter to Girard proposing to suspend him for three days for failing to protect the interest of the federal government by allowing a statute of limitations to lapse. Girard contacted an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor on August 28, 1987, and complained of discrimination based on his age, sex, and race due to his nonselection to a management position. On October 14, 1987, Girard filed a formal complaint of discrimination with the IRS. The IRS Regional Complaints Center (RCC) requested more information from Girard on November 10, 1987. Specifically, it asked why he had waited three years to file a complaint based on his nonselection for a management position in 1984 and early 1985. Girard responded that it was not until he had gone to the EEO counselor that he learned that Nixon, as a Field Branch Chief, did not have the authority to remove him from the RMCP. On December 14, 1987, the IRS rejected Girard's complaint as untimely. Girard appealed the decision to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which found on June 8, 1988 that Girard's claim that he was removed from the RMCP based on his age, race, and sex was timely because he "could not have reasonably known that his discharge from the RMCP was unauthorized and improper until he was told this fact by the EEO Counselor."
Pursuant to the EEOC's decision, which the IRS did not seek further review of, the IRS accepted the complaint and began an investigation. On December 19, 1988, the RCC issued a proposed disposition which found no discrimination. On December 28, 1988, Girard requested a hearing before an EEOC administrative judge.
A hearing on Girard's individual complaint was ultimately held and the administrative judge issued a recommended decision that Girard was improperly removed from the RMCP in 1984 and had therefore been denied a management position based on his race, sex, and age. Nevertheless, on November 18, 1992, the IRS issued a final agency decision rejecting all of Girard's discrimination claims on their merits. Girard appealed that decision to the EEOC, which affirmed the final agency decision on July 8, 1993.
Then Girard timely filed this action in district court. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court granted the Secretary's motion. It found that Girard had not complied with the relevant thirty-day statute of limitations because he had waited nearly three years to file his administrative complaint. The district court subsequently denied Girard's motion for...
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