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Seastrand v. U.S. Bank N.A.

United States District Court, D. Utah

May 4, 2017

U.S. BANK, N.A., a nationally chartered bank; and RALPH PACE, an individual, Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendant U.S. Bank, N.A.'s (“U.S. Bank”) Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On or around October 5, 2016, Mr. Seastrand, through counsel, provided the EEOC with a letter and attached document. The letter's subject line read: “Charge of Employment Discrimination in Violation of the ADEA.”[1] The attached document was titled “Charge of Employment Discrimination, ” and was signed by Seastrand.[2] The attachment included Seastrand's personal information, information about U.S. Bank, and a narrative of facts surrounding an alleged wrongful termination.

         On October 5, 2016, the EEOC assigned Seastrand's matter an EEOC Charge Number and acknowledged receipt of the documents.[3] On October 12, 2016, the EEOC generated an EEOC Form titled “Notice of Charge of Discrimination, ” which recorded that John Seastrand had filed a charge and claimed to be aggrieved by employment discrimination under the ADEA.[4]

         Finally, on January 10, 2017, the EEOC generated “Form 5, ” also titled “Notice of Charge of Discrimination.”[5] Form 5 was filed with U.S. Bank. Seastrand initiated the present suit on February 27, 2017, about 145 days after submitting documents to the EEOC and 48 days after the EEOC created the Form 5 notice.

         U.S. Bank initially argued that Form 5, rather than Seastrand's earlier filing, was the operative “charge, ” and that Seastrand therefore failed to wait sixty days before filing his Complaint. In its Reply, U.S. Bank appears to retreat from that position, but maintains that Seastrand has inadequately alleged that the October, 2016 documents were a “charge” under the ADEA.

         II. STANDARD

         When an employee files a charge alleging unlawful age discrimination with the EEOC, “the charge sets the Act's enforcement mechanisms in motion, commencing a waiting period during which the employee cannot file suit.”[6] The waiting period for civil actions is sixty days.[7]A failure to exhaust administrative processes in an ADEA case is grounds for dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.[8]

         U.S. Bank frames its argument as a 12(b)(6) motion; however, it is actually a jurisdictional challenge. Seastrand argues that Rule 12(b)(1) provides the appropriate standard. Typically, arguments regarding subject matter jurisdiction should be analyzed under Rule 12(b)(1). However, the Court must “convert a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss into a Rule 12(b)(6) motion . . . when resolution of the jurisdictional question is intertwined with the merits of the case.”[9] Here, resolution of the jurisdictional issue-whether Seastrand's October communication constituted a notice of charge-is not an aspect of the substantive claim in his discrimination action.[10] Therefore, Rule 12(b)(1) provides the correct standard.

Generally, Rule 12(b)(1) motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction take two forms. First, a facial attack on the complaint's allegations as to subject matter jurisdiction questions the sufficiency of the complaint. . . . Second, a party may go beyond allegations contained in the complaint and challenge the facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction depends.[11]

         Seastrand's Complaint alleges that Seastrand filed a charge and that the EEOC acknowledged receipt of that charge on October 5, 2016.[12] U.S. Bank goes beyond the Complaint's allegations by arguing that the documents Seastrand filed did not legally constitute a “charge” under the ADEA. “When reviewing a factual attack on subject matter jurisdiction, a district court may not presume the truthfulness of the complaint's factual allegations. A court has wide discretion to allow affidavits, other documents, and a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts under Rule 12(b)(1).”[13] Therefore, the Court may properly consider not only the Complaint, but the exhibits filed by the parties to resolve factual disputes on this narrow issue.[14]


         The question before the Court is whether Seastrand's filing with the EEOC in 2016 qualifies as a “charge” under 29 U.S.C. § 1626(d). There is no statutory definition of the term. However, the EEOC regulations define “charge” as “a statement filed with the Commission by or on behalf of an aggrieved person which alleges that the named prospective defendant has engaged in or is about to engage in actions in violation of the Act.”[15]

         This definition is supplemented by Sections 1626.6 and 1626.8, which list pieces of information that should be present in a charge. The Supreme Court considered these regulations in depth ...

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