Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 79-C-3226 -- Milton I. Shadur, District Judge.
Wood and Posner, Circuit Judges, and Gordon, District Judge.*fn*
This is an appeal from a dismissal of the appellant's Title VII suit by the district court for the Northern District of Illinois. 547 F. Supp. 752. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
The appellant, Charles Sims, is black. Beginning in March, 1975, he was employed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in its Chicago Financial Management Office. Mr. Sims' problems began in March, 1976, when the HHS, citing inadequate performance, denied Mr. Sims a semi-automatic seniority promotion. The promotion denial soured Mr. Sims' attitude toward both his job and supervisors; this led to incidents which further damaged Mr. Sims' prospects for advancement.
In December, 1976, Mr. Sims complained to an HHS Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Counselor that HHS had discriminated against him because of his race. The EEO Counselor attempted to resolve the complaints informally by consulting with all involved parties, until February 9, 1977, when the attempt was abandoned. Mr. Sims then filed a formal complaint, and a full investigation ensued. During the next five years, dispositions were proposed, settlements were suggested, a hearing was held, and an extensive report was filed. In May, 1982, HHS finally rejected Mr. Sims' discrimination complaint.
While his administrative claim was still pending, Mr. Sims filed this multi-claim action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(c); the latter provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits employment discrimination suits to be brought against the federal government. Mr. Sims alleged that HHS had discriminated against him when it (1) failed to promote him in March, 1976, (2) charged him with an unauthorized absence on November 4, 1976, (3) denied him training on three occasions in January, 1977, (4) charged him with an unauthorized absence in January, 1977, and (5) committed five further acts after the EEO Counselor had ended his mediation efforts on February 9, 1977.
Judge Shadur dismissed the action on the ground that the district court was without subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff failed to comply with administrative prerequisites. It has been a rule of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16 jurisprudence that exhaustion of administrative remedies is a prerequisite for bringing an action in federal court. Brown v. General Services Administration, 425 U.S. 820, 832, 48 L. Ed. 2d 402, 96 S. Ct. 1961 (1976); Gaballah v. Johnson, 629 F.2d 1191 (7th Cir. 1980).
The applicable regulation provides that a federal agency may accept a discrimination complaint only if
the complainant brought to the attention of the Equal Opportunity Counselor the matter causing him to believe he had been discriminated against within 30 calendar days of the date of that matter or, if a personnel action, within 30 calendar days of its effective date;
29 C.F.R. § 1613.214(a)(1)(i)
There is, however, an exception to the 30-day limitation:
The agency shall extend the time limits in this section: (i) When the complainant shows that he was notified of the time limits and was not otherwise aware of them, or that he was prevented by circumstances beyond his control from submitting the matter within the time ...