Document Type


Publication Date



Plaintiff-appellant Edwin F. Fernandez ("Fernandez") appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Gleeson, J.) dismissing his Complaint against defendant-appellee Michael Chertoff, as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ("Department"), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fernandez, who is of Puerto Rican ethnicity, commenced this action pro se under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"), alleging employment discrimination on account of his race, sex, and national origin after the Department denied his request to be reinstated to his former position as a Canine Enforcement Officer ("CEO") following a two-year medical leave of absence. In his Complaint, Fernandez alleged that his labor union, the National Treasury Employees Union ("NTEU"), initially challenged the Department's decision denying his reinstatement by invoking arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement but later withdrew his grievance from arbitration when he rejected a proposed settlement.

The Department moved to dismiss the Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, contending that Fernandez had not appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") following the NTEU's withdrawal from arbitration and therefore failed to exhaust his administrative remedies under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 before filing his Title VII lawsuit. Following a hearing, the District Court determined that Fernandez had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by not appealing his grievance to the EEOC, and the court further declined to apply equitable principles to excuse this failure. The court then granted the Department's motion and dismissed the Complaint. Because we conclude that the District Court, in declining to apply equitable principles to excuse Fernandez's failure, erred in failing to consider all of the unique circumstances of this case, we vacate the judgment of the District Court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


471 F.3d 45 (2006)

Edwin F. FERNANDEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Michael CHERTOFF,[1] Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Defendant-Appellee.

Docket No. 05-0426-cv.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

Argued: October 17, 2005.

Decided: December 5, 2006.

New York Law School location: Box 150, File #3403