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2015 Conn. Super. LEXIS 294, *

Krystal Lennon v. Dolce Vida Medical Spa et al.
2015 Conn. Super. LEXIS 294
February 10, 2015, Decided
February 10, 2015, Filed
CORE TERMS: notice, right-to-sue, state agency, deferral, jurisdictional, exhaustion, workshare, civil action,
supplemental, precondition, employment practice, administrative remedies, expiration, notice of rights, person
aggrieved, quotation marks omitted, work-sharing, terminated, unopposed, federal law, subject matter jurisdiction,
federal claims, equitable tolling, procedural requirements, antidiscrimination, prerequisite, aggrieved, commence,
estoppel, notify
JUDGES: [*1] Michael P. Kamp, J.
OPINION BY: Michael P. Kamp
The issue before the court is the defendant's motion to dismiss portions of counts one, two, and three of the
plaintiff's complaint on the ground that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiff's Title VII claims.
This is an employment discrimination case. In December of 2013, the plaintiff, Krystal Lennon, served process on
the defendants: Dolce Vida Medical Spa, LLC (Dolce Vida); Southern Connecticut Urological Associates, LLC
(Urological Associates); and Scott Callahan.
In her complaint, the plaintiff alleges the following facts. Both defendant LLCs are organized in Connecticut and
both employ more than fifteen people at various locations within the state. Callahan is an owner and member of Dolce
Vida. He was also the plaintiff's direct supervisor. The plaintiff was employed full-time by the defendants from
September 20, 2010 until August 28, 2012. As an employee, she performed services in accordance with her nursing
credentials as well as office, clerical, and marketing duties, all of which were performed at Dolce Vida's offices. During
her employment, she suffered sexual harassment at the hands of Callahan, [*2] and a generally hostile work
environment as a result of his behavior. After rejecting his advances and complaining of his behavior, she was
terminated. According to the plaintiff, she was accused of defaming or otherwise slandering Callahan. Thereafter, she

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filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and, in addition, complaints and
affidavits of discrimination against all three defendants with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and
Opportunities (CHRO). The CHRO issued a release of jurisdiction on September 27, 2013.
At issue here are the first three counts of the complaint. Each count is alleged against both Dolce Vida and
Urological Associates. Count one alleges retaliation, in violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act
(CFEPA), General Statutes 46a-60, and of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. (Title
VII). Count two alleges discrimination on the basis of sex, in violation of 46a-60 and of Title VII. Count three alleges a
hostile work environment, in violation of 46a-60 and of Title VII.
Before the court is the defendants' April 1, 2014 motion to dismiss all of the plaintiff's Title VII claims on the
ground that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction thereover because the plaintiff failed [*3] to obtain a requisite
notice of right-to-sue from the EEOC prior to commencing this action. The motion is supported by a memorandum of
law. The plaintiffs filed a memorandum in opposition thereto on April 10, 2014, together with two unopposed exhibits;
Exhibit A: CHRO Affidavit of Illegal Discriminatory Practice; and Exhibit B: CHRO Release of Jurisdiction. 1 The
defendants filed a reply on May 28, 2014. This matter was heard at the short calendar on June 2, 2014.
1 When deciding a jurisdictional question raised by a motion to dismiss, the court may consider undisputed
evidence. Conboy v. State, 292 Conn. 642, 651-52, 974 A.2d 669 (2009).
Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a supplemental memorandum in opposition on September 18, 2014, together with one
unopposed exhibit: Exhibit A: EEOC Dismissal and Notice of Rights. The defendants filed a reply on September 19,
2014. The court heard this matter again on September 22, 2014.
The plaintiff then filed a supplemental memorandum in opposition on October 6, 2014, together with several
additional unopposed exhibits: Exhibit A: three separate CHRO Releases of Jurisdiction; and Exhibit B: Workshare
Agreement between the CHRO and the EEOC for fiscal year 2013. The defendants filed a supplemental reply on
October [*4] 15, 2014.
The motion to dismiss is governed by Practice Book 10-30.2,3 "[A] motion to dismiss . . . properly attacks the
jurisdiction of the court, essentially asserting that the plaintiff cannot as a matter of law and fact state a cause of action
that should be heard by the court." Santorso v. Bristol Hospital, 308 Conn. 338, 350, 63 A.3d 940 (2013). "A motion to
dismiss tests, inter alia, whether, on the face of the record, the court is without jurisdiction." Dayner v. Archdiocese of
Hartford, 301 Conn. 759, 774, 23 A.3d 1192 (2012).
2 Practice Book 10-30 provides, in relevant part: "(a) A motion to dismiss shall be used to assert: (1) lack of
jurisdiction over the subject matter . . ."
3 The court notes that the defendants seek dismissal of portions of counts one through three. Each count alleges
two separate causes of action: violation of 46a-60, and violation of Title VII. The defendants only seek
dismissal of the Title VII claims. Ideally, these claims would first be parsed into individual counts following a
request to revise. Practice Book 10-35(3). Nevertheless, our Appellate Court has upheld the dismissal of
portions of a count of a complaint. Paragon Construction Co. v. Department of Public Works, 130 Conn.App.
211, 221 n.10, 23 A.3d 732 (2011), Accordingly, the court will entertain the defendants' motion.
The defendants argue that the plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative procedures for her Title VII claims is fatal
to the court's jurisdiction over those claims. Specifically, [*5] they claim that, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5, the
plaintiff was obligated to obtain a right-to-sue notice from the EEOC itself before she could commence an action in
court. They concede that the plaintiff did obtain a release from the CHRO relative to her state law claims, which are
therefore properly before the court. Nevertheless, they claim that she failed to obtain a right-to-sue letter from the
EEOC prior to commencing this action and, therefore, her Title VII claims must be dismissed.
In response, the plaintiff argues that the CHRO and the EEOC have entered into a contract, which they call a
workshare agreement, and that pursuant to the workshare agreement, redundant filings with respect to the two agencies
are unnecessary. Moreover, pursuant to the workshare agreement, the plaintiff's releases from the CHRO are global,
signifying that she has exhausted available administrative remedies for both her state and federal claims, and that she is

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therefore permitted to sue for all of them. Finally, the plaintiff claims that she did receive a release from the EEOC
relative to her claims against Urological Associates, but that release was issued after the ninety-day deadline by which
she was required [*6] to commence action pursuant to the CHRO releases. Therefore, she argues, it was an
impossibility for her to file this suit within the limited time period afforded by the CHRO releases and also comply with
the strictures advocated by the defendants.
Appended to the plaintiff's October 6, 2014 supplemental memorandum in opposition is an unopposed copy of the
subject workshare agreement.4 This six-page agreement allocates responsibilities between the EEOC and CHRO for the
expeditious processing of state and federal workplace discrimination claims. The agreement provides, in relevant part,
that "the EEOC and the [CHRO] each designate the other as its agent for the purpose of receiving and drafting charges,
including those that are not jurisdictional with the agency that initially receives the charges . . . The [CHRO] shall take
all charges alleging a violation of Title VII . . . where both the [CHRO] and the EEOC have mutual jurisdiction, or
where the EEOC has jurisdiction . . . Each agency will inform individuals of their respective rights to file charges
directly with the other Agency and or assist any person alleging employment discrimination to draft a charge in a
manner that will satisfy [*7] the requirements of both agencies to the extent of their common jurisdiction . . . Normally,
once an agency begins an investigation, it resolves the charge . . . [C]harges will be resolved by the agency taking the
charge except when the agency taking the charge lacks jurisdiction or when the charge is to be transferred . . . Within ten
calendar days of receipt, each Agency agrees that it will notify both the Charging Party and the Respondent of the dualfiled nature of each such charge it receives for initial processing . . ."
4 See note 1.
The plaintiff also appends to her October 6, 2014 supplemental memorandum in opposition the September 27, 2013
releases of jurisdiction that were issued to her by the CHRO with respect her claims against Dolce Vida and Urological
Associates. The release respecting Dolce Vida bears CHRO docket number 1330300 and EEOC docket number 16A2013-00761. The release respecting Urological Associates bears CHRO docket number 1330301 and EEOC docket
number 16A-2013-00762. Both releases state the following: "The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
hereby releases its jurisdiction over the above-identified complaint. The Complainant is authorized to commence a civil
[*8] action in accordance with [General Statutes] 46a-100 against the Respondent in the Superior Court . . . The
Complainant must bring an action in Superior Court within 90 days of receipt of this release and within two years of
the date of filing the complaint with the Commission unless circumstances tolling the statute of limitations are present."
(Emphasis in original.)
Finally, appended to the plaintiff's September 18, 2014 supplemental memorandum in opposition is a release of
jurisdiction issued by the EEOC with respect to her claims against Urological Associates. That document, entitled
dismissal and notice of rights, is dated January 23, 2014, and bears the docket number 16A-2013-00762. The release
provides, in relevant part: "The EEOC is closing its file on this charge for the following reason: . . . Charging Party is
pursuing claim in another forum."
In response to the plaintiff's contentions, the defendants argue that, in addition to their previously stated grounds,
the motion to dismiss must be granted because the plaintiff did not plead the existence of a workshare agreement in her
complaint, or any provision thereof that would excuse the normal statutory prerequisites in her objection.
A claim for Title [*9] VII violations raises a question of federal law rather than state law. Schnabel v. Tyler, 230
Conn. 735, 742, 646 A.2d 152 (1994) (interpretation of federal statute question of federal law). "Therefore, in reviewing
these claims . . . [the court is] bound by federal precedent . . . Furthermore, in applying federal law in those instances
where the United States Supreme Court has not spoken, [our Supreme Court] generally give[s] special consideration to
decisions of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 742-43; see
also Tedesco v. Stamford, 24 Conn.App. 377, 385, 588 A.2d 656 (1991) ("The decisions of the federal circuit in which a
state court is located are entitled to great weight in the interpretation of a federal statute"). Nevertheless, "the decisions
of the Second Circuit, while often persuasive, do not bind the decisions of Connecticut courts." Rweyemamu v.
Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities, 98 Conn.App. 646, 657, 911 A.2d 319 (2006), cert. denied, 281 Conn.
911, 916 A.2d 51, cert. denied, 552 U.S. 886, 128 S. Ct. 206, 169 L. Ed. 2d 144 (2007). Thus, this court is bound by
decisions of the appellate courts of this state, and will afford great weight to decisions of the Second Circuit Court of
"Exhaustion of administrative remedies through the EEOC is an essential element of the Title VII . . . statutory
scheme and, as such, a precondition to bringing such claims in federal court." Tanvir v. New York City Health &

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Hospitals Corp., 480 Fed.Appx. 620 (2d Cir. 2012); Colquitt v. Xerox Corp.., 546 Fed. Appx. 26, 28 (2d Cir. 2013)
(same). "The doctrine of exhaustion [*10] of administrative remedies is well established . . . and provides that no one is
entitled to judicial relief for a supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed administrative remedy has been
exhausted . . . Application of the doctrine to specific cases requires an understanding of its purposes and of the
particular administrative scheme involved."5 (Internal quotation marks omitted) Johnson v. Statewide Grievance
Committee, 248 Conn. 87, 95, 726 A.2d 1154 (1999). "Under [this] doctrine, a trial court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over an action that seeks a remedy that could be provided through an administrative proceeding, unless and
until that remedy has been sought in the administrative forum . . . In the absence of exhaustion of that remedy, the action
must be dismissed." Hinde v. Specialized Education of Connecticut, Inc., 147 Conn.App. 730, 745-46, 84 A.3d 895
5 "[I]n exceptional circumstances a claimant may bypass administrative remedies in favor of direct judicial
action . . ." Sullivan v. Board of Police Commissioners, 196 Conn. 208, 216, 491 A.2d 1096 (1985).
Nevertheless, such exceptions are "recognized . . . only infrequently arid only for narrowly defined purposes."
La Croix v. Board of Education, 199 Conn. 70, 79, 505 A.2d 1233 (1986).
In order to satisfy the exhaustion requirement of Title VII, a plaintiff must file a charge with the EEOC. See 42
U.S.C. 2000e-5(f); Tanvir v. New York City Health & Hospitals Corp., supra, 480 Fed.Appx. 620. "If no civil suit is
filed by the EEOC or its authorized agent within 180 days of the filing of the charge, then the EEOC must notify the
[*11] plaintiff by letter. [See 42 U.S.C.] 2000e-5(f)(1);6 29 C.F.R. 1601.28 (1994).7 After receiving such a 'notice-ofright-to-sue' letter, a plaintiff can bring a civil action against his or her employer. See 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(f)(3); 29
C.F.R. 1601.28(e)(1)." Pietras v. Board of Fire Commissioners, 180 F.3d 468, 473 (2d Cir. 1999).
6 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(f)(1) provides, in relevant part: "(f) Civil action by Commission, Attorney General, or
person aggrieved . . .
"(1) If within thirty days after a charge is filed with the Commission or within thirty days after expiration of
any period of reference under subsection (c) or (d), the Commission has been unable to secure from the
respondent a conciliation agreement acceptable to the Commission, the Commission may bring a civil action
against any respondent not a government, governmental agency, or political subdivision named in the charge . . .
If a charge filed with the Commission pursuant to subsection (b) is dismissed by the Commission, or If within
one hundred and eighty days from the filing of such charge or the expiration of any period of reference under
subsection (c) or (d), whichever is later, the Commission has not filed a civil action under this section . . . or the
Commission has not entered into a conciliation agreement to which the person aggrieved is a party, the
Commission . . . shall so notify the person aggrieved and within ninety days after the giving [*12] of such
notice a civil action may be brought against the respondent named in the charge (A) by the person claiming to be
aggrieved . . ."
7 29 C.F.R. 1601.28 provides, in relevant part: "(a) Issuance of notice of right to sue upon request. (1) When a
person claiming to be aggrieved requests, in writing, that a notice of right to sue be issued and the charge to
which the request relates is filed against a respondent other than a government, governmental agency or political
subdivision, the Commission shall promptly issue such notice as described in 1601.28(e) to all parties, at any
time after the expiration of one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of filing of the charge with the
Commission, or in the case of a Commissioner charge 180 days after the filing of the charge or 180 days after
the expiration of any period of reference under section 706(d) of title VII as appropriate . . . (e) Content of notice
of right to sue. The notice of right-to-sue shall include: . . . (1) Authorization to the aggrieved person to bring a
civil action under title VII, the ADA, or GINA pursuant to section 706(f)(1) of title VII . . . within 90 days from
receipt of such authorization . . ."
Federal statutes authorize, however, a working relationship between [*13] the EEOC and the CHRO. "Title VII . . .
authorize[s] the EEOC to enter into cooperation agreements with state and local antidiscrimination agencies. See 42
U.S.C. 2000e-8(b); 29 U.S.C. 625(b); [EEOC v. Commercial Office Products Co.], 486 U.S. 107, 112, 100 L.Ed.2d
96, 108 S.Ct. 1666 (1988) (EEOC has entered into work-sharing agreements with approximately 81 of the 109 state or
local antidiscrimination agencies)." Ford v. Bernard Fineson Development Center, 81 F.3d 304, 306 (2d Cir. 1996). "A
workshare or cooperation agreement is an agreement between the EEOC and a state or local antidiscrimination agency
that is designed to promote effective enforcement of the federal and state statutes by apportioning initial jurisdiction
over discrimination complaints between the agencies. See [Ford v. Bernard Fineson Development Center, supra,] 81
F.3d at 309; see also [EEOC v. Commercial Office Products Co., supra, 486 U.S. at 112]; 42 U.S.C. 2000e-8(b) &

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2000e-4(g)(1)." Doe v. Odili Technologies, Inc., Docket No. 3:96CV1957 (AHN), 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23268
(D.Conn. 1997).
"A deferral state is one which has its own anti-discrimination laws and administrative agency. Connecticut is such a
deferral state.8,9 In a deferral state, a complaint must first be filed with the state agency to give it an opportunity to
resolve the suit. In the initial sixty-day period the state agency has exclusive jurisdiction to process discrimination
charges. The state agency retains exclusive jurisdiction unless one of three events occur to trigger EEOC jurisdiction:
(1) the sixty-day deferral period expires; (2) the state [*14] agency proceedings are 'terminated,' see [Ford v. Bernard
Fineson Development Center, supra,] 81 F.3d at 309; or (3) the state agency waives its right to exclusively process the
charge. See 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(c);10 see also [Ford v. Bernard Fineson Development Center, supra,] 81 F.3d at 305. The
EEOC does not have subject matter jurisdiction to proceed with its investigation and to issue a right to sue letter until
the deferral period expires or the state agency proceedings are otherwise terminated. See Albano v. General Adjustment
Bur., 478 F.Sup. 1209, 1214 (S.D.N.Y. 1979), aff'd, 622 F.2d 572 (2d Cir. 1980)." Doe v. Odili Technologies, Inc., supra,
Docket No. 3:96CV1957 (AHN), 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23268.
8 "Connecticut is a deferral state because it has a fair employment practice law and a state agency empowered
to act against unlawful employment practices. See [General Statutes] 46a-51 to -104. As a result, the CHRO
qualifies as a state deferral agency. See 29 C.F.R. 1601.70, 1601.74, 1601.80 (1990)." Doe v. Odili
Technologies, Inc., supra, Docket No. 3:96CV1957 (AHN), 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23268.
9 29 C.F.R. 1601.74 provides, in relevant part: "The designated FEP agencies are: . . . Connecticut
Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity . . ."
10 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(c) provides, in relevant part: "In the case of an alleged unlawful employment practice
occurring in a State . . . which has a State . . . law prohibiting the unlawful employment practice alleged and
establishing or authorizing a State . . . authority to grant or seek relief from such practice or to institute criminal
proceedings with respect thereto upon receiving notice thereof, no charge may [*15] be filed under subsection
(a) . . . by the person aggrieved before the expiration of sixty days after proceedings have been commenced
under the State or local law, unless such proceedings have been earlier terminated, provided that such sixty-day
period shall be extended to one hundred and twenty days during the first year after the effective date of such
State . . . law. If any requirement for the commencement of such proceedings is imposed by a State . . . authority
other than a requirement of the filing of a written and signed statement of the facts upon which the proceeding is
based, the proceeding shall be deemed to have been commenced for the purposes of this subsection at the time
such statement is sent by registered mail to the appropriate State . . . authority."
Our Appellate Court considered the administrative requirements of Title VII in Hinde v. Specialized Education of
Connecticut, Inc., 147 Conn.App. 730, 84 A.3d 895 (2014), observing: "The United States Supreme Court has held that
filing a timely charge of discrimination with the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] is not a jurisdictional
prerequisite to suit in federal court, but a requirement that, like a statute of limitations, is subject to waiver, estoppel,
and equitable tolling. Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 455 U.S. 385, 393, 102 S.Ct. 1127, 71 L.Ed.2d 234 (1982).
The Supreme Court reasoned [*16] that the legislature listed the filing requirement in a separate section of Title VII
than the section that grants jurisdiction to the federal district courts. Id., 393-94 . . . Since the Supreme Court's holding
in Zipes, some federal circuit courts have held that all Title VII procedural requirements to suit are henceforth to be
viewed as conditions precedent to suit rather than as jurisdictional requirements . . . while other federal circuit courts
have taken a piecemeal approach to extending the holding in Zipes to other procedural requirements . . . When presented
with the issue of extending the Zipes holding to the right-to-sue letter requirement, every federal circuit court has
decided that that procedural requirement is a precondition subject to equitable tolling, estoppel and waiver." (Citations
omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Hinde v. Specialized Education of Connecticut, Inc., supra, 147 Conn.App.
743-44, citing, inter alia, Pietras v. Board of Fire Commissioners, 180 F.3d 468, 473-74 (2d Cir. 1999) (complainant's
obligation to obtain notice-of-right-to-sue letter is mere precondition to Title VII action, but courts may waive
precondition where appropriate).11
11 In Pietras, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals observed that "[e]very circuit before [it] that ha[d] faced the
question ha[d] held that a plaintiff's failure to obtain a notice-of-right-to-sue-letter [*17] is not a jurisdictional
bar, but only a precondition to bringing a Title VII action that can be waived by the parties or the court." Pietras
v. Board of Fire Commissioners, supra, 180 F.3d 474.
In Burke v. Also Cornerstone, Docket No. 3:07CV889 (MRK), 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76662 (D.Conn. 2007),
Judge Kravitz held that, because administrative exhaustion is not a jurisdictional prerequisite to Title VII claims but,

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rather, a mere requirement that is subject to waiver, estoppel, and equitable tolling, it is not necessary for a plaintiff who
has a release from the CHRO to also obtain a right-to-sue notice from the EEOC. Judge Kravitz explained: "[a]s the
purposes of the exhaustion requirement to provide notice to parties charged with violations and to facilitate voluntary
compliance should the investigating agency and merit in the complaint--have been served by the state proceeding, the
Court does not view the omission of the actual right-to-sue letter as grounds for dismissal." Id., quoting Ortiz v.
Prudential Insurance Co., 94 F.Sup.2d 225, 231 (D.Conn. 2000), and citing Pruitt v. Mailroom Tech., Inc., Docket No,
3:06CV1530, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57808 (D.Conn. 2007) ("The CHRO is a deferral state agency with a worksharing agreement with the EEOC. Thus exhaustion of state proceedings through the CHRO allows plaintiff to proceed
with her state and federal claims"). Subsequent [*18] decisions from the district court have held the same. "Courts in
this district have held that a failure to attach a release of jurisdiction from the EEOC is not necessarily fatal to federal
discrimination claims, so long as the plaintiff attaches the corresponding release of jurisdiction from the [CHRO],
because of the existence of work-sharing arrangements entered into by state and federal anti-discrimination agencies."
(Internal quotation marks omitted.) Lunardini v. Massachussetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., 696 F. Supp. 2d 149, 167
n.19 (D.Conn. 2010).
Here, the CHRO issued releases of jurisdiction to the plaintiff on September 27, 2013. The releases included the
docket numbers for her state and federal claims, and included a notice that she "must bring an action in Superior Court
within 90 days of receipt." The plaintiff then served process on Dolce Vida on December 9, 2013, and on Urological
Associates on December 12, 2013, well within the ninety-day period for each. In light of the plaintiff's timely
compliance with this filing requirement, the nature of the work-sharing agreement in place between the CHRO and the
EEOC, the fact that every federal circuit court presented with this issue has decided that obtaining a right-to-sue letter is
a precondition rather than a jurisdictional [*19] requirement for bringing suit based on EEOC violations, and recent
decisions of the district courts of Connecticut holding that a plaintiff who has a release from the CHRO is not required
to obtain a duplicate right-to-sue notice from the EEOC, the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiff's Title VII claims
is hereby DENIED.

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