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MIDDLEBROOKS v. COUGHLIN

July 16, 1997

CRAIG MIDDLEBROOKS, Plaintiff, -vs- THOMAS A. COUGHLIN (Commissioner), LYLE STARKWEATHER (Superintendent), MARIE TYRONE CURTISS (Assistant Director), Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CURTIN

 CURTIN, District Judge

 BACKGROUND

 Pro se plaintiff Craig Middlebrooks is a corrections officer for the New York State Department of Corrections. He alleges that defendants denied him promotion because he is black.

 On July 26, 1995, the court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, giving plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. The court instructed the plaintiff to file a more definite statement of facts and to state what steps he had taken to satisfy Title VII procedural requirements. Item 26.

 On September 22, 1995, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Plaintiff stated that he was bringing the lawsuit under section 1983 and again made no mention of Title VII. Item 30. The parties then filed cross motions for summary judgment, addressing plaintiff's case as though it were brought under Title VII.

 On April 15, 1997, the court ordered the parties to file additional briefs addressing whether plaintiff is entitled to bring his claim under section 1983. Item 52. The parties then filed the cross motions for summary judgment now before the court. Items 53 and 55.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Plaintiff cannot bring the present action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

 The complaint in this employment discrimination case is brought exclusively under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff explicitly makes no claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1984, 42 U.S.C. 2000-e, although Title VII covers the race discrimination claims asserted in the complaint. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Title VII cannot be bypassed in this manner. Item 55. Plaintiff cross-moves for summary judgment. Item 53.

 The Title VII claimant faces significant administrative hurdles. Before instituting a lawsuit, a Title VII claimant must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b) (1982). In most states, including New York, the claimant must file a claim with the appropriate state agency before filing the EEOC claim. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(c) (1982). The claimant may bring a lawsuit in federal district court only after the two administrative filings. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) (1982). Many of the filing time limits are relatively short. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e) (1982). The complaint must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days after the alleged unlawful practice has occurred. This period is extended to 300 days if the claimant has filed with a state or local agency. Id. After the EEOC issues a "right-to-sue" letter, the claimant has only 90 days to file an action in federal courts. Id. § 2000e-5(f)(1).

 In contrast, a section 1983 plaintiff may proceed directly to a federal district court. The law does not require a section 1983 plaintiff to exhaust state administrative or legal remedies. Patsy v. Board of Regents, 457 U.S. 496, 516, 73 L. Ed. 2d 172, 102 S. Ct. 2557 (1982) (holding that sex discrimination claimant was not obligated to exhaust state administrative process before bringing lawsuit).

 Title VII's procedural prerequisites were not an accident:

 
Cooperation and voluntary compliance were selected as the preferred means for achieving [Title VII's goals]. To this end, Congress created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and established a procedure whereby existing state and local equal employment opportunity agencies, as well as the Commission, would have an opportunity to settle disputes through ...

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