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Legal Holidays & Sundays Toll the Three Day Mailing Rule for Purposes of Determining a Filing Deadline

Ragland v. Macy’s, Inc.
(D.Md.) (Dec. 19, 2011)

by Kevin M. Cox, Associate
Semmes, Bowen & Semmes (

Plaintiff, Michelle Ragland (“Ms. Ragland”), sued Defendant, Macy’s, Inc., (“Macy’s”), alleging discrimination based on her race, age, national origin, and disability, following termination of her claim by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). After removing this case to Federal court from the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Macy’s filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Specifically, Macy’s asserted that Ms. Ragland’s lawsuit was untimely, and therefore, should be dismissed.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) states that a plaintiff who files suit for denial of her claim by the EEOC has ninety (90) days from receipt of a right-to-sue letter in which to file suit. Macy’s asserted that because the right-to-sue letter was issued on May 26, 2011, Ms. Ragland’s suit could be filed no later than August 29, 2011 (i.e., ninety (90) days after May 31, 2011), which was the first day at least three (3) days after the letter’s issuance. The Court noted that, at first glance, Ms. Ragland’s suit appeared to be untimely; however, upon further review, the Court found the suit to be timely.

Macy’s assumed the incorrect start date for the running of the ninety (90) day deadline. The right-to-sue letter was postmarked May 27, 2011. The Court found that this postmark governed the calculation of when the right-to-sue letter was actually placed in the mail. Under FED. R. CIV. P. 6(d), the ninety (90)-day period for filing began three (3) days later on May 30, 2011. It stood to reason then that the three (3) days allowed for mail receipt should be days on which mail is actually delivered, as opposed to holidays and Sundays. May 29, 2011 was a Sunday, and May 30, 2011 was Memorial Day, a Federal Holiday. The third postal day after May 27, 2011 was June 1, 2011. The Court held that it would be unfair to presume that Ms. Ragland received the right-to-sue letter before June 1, 2011, in the absence of evidence of the actual date of delivery. Ninety (90) days after June 1, 2011 was August 30, 2011, the date on which Plaintiff filed suit. Therefore, the Court ruled that Plaintiff’s suit was timely.