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Briggs v. Florida Parishes Juvenile Justice Commission

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

March 12, 2018

TAMMY L. BRIGGS
v.
FLORIDA PARISHES JUVENILE JUSTICE COMMISSION; FLORIDA PARISHES JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER

         On appeal from the Twenty-First Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Tangipahoa State of Louisiana Docket Number 2015-0003649 Honorable Robert J. Burns, Judge Ad Hoc[1]

          Thomas J. Hogan, Jr. Counsel forHammond, LA Plaintiff/Appellant Tammy L. Briggs

          Randall L. Kleinman Counsel for Keene R. Kelley Defendants/Appellee New Orleans, LA Florida Parishes Juvenile Justice Commission and Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, PETTIGREW, AND CRAIN, JJ.

          GUIDRY, JUDGE.

         A discharged employee appeals the dismissal of her petition alleging racial and gender discrimination as being prescribed. Finding no error in the trial court's judgment, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         According to her petition, the plaintiff, Tammy L. Briggs, was hired as a cook at the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center in 2006. On August 19, 2014, Ms. Briggs was terminated from her employment for violating Detention Center rules and procedures.[2] Ms. Briggs later filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights, alleging that her suspension and subsequent termination were premised on racial and gender discrimination.[3]

         On August 19, 2015, the EEOC mailed a "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" letter to Ms. Briggs, notifying her that based on its investigation, it was unable to conclude that a violation had occurred. The letter also included the following "Notice of Suit Rights":

This will be the only notice of dismissal and of your right to sue that we will send you. You may file a lawsuit against the respondent(s) under federal law based on this charge in federal or state court. Your lawsuit must be filed WITHIN 90 DAYS of your receipt of this notice or your right to sue based on this charge will be lost. (The time limit for filing suit based on a claim under state law may be different.)

         Ms. Briggs subsequently filed a petition against the Florida Parishes Juvenile Justice Commission and the Detention Center on December 8, 2015. After answering Ms. Briggs' petition, the defendants raised the objection of prescription by filing a peremptory exception, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. The defendants asserted that Ms. Briggs' claims of discrimination were subject to a one-year prescriptive period under La. R.S. 23;3O3(D), and as the last act of discrimination alleged by Ms. Briggs (her termination) occurred on August 19, 2014, her lawsuit filed on December 8, 2015, was untimely. Ms. Briggs opposed the objection of prescription, arguing that under jurisprudence interpreting La. R.S. 23;3O3(D), the prescriptive period applicable to her claims was 18 months, not one year.

         The trial court heard the defendants' objection of prescription urged pursuant to a peremptory exception, or in the alternative, motion for summary judgment, on December 6, 2016. The trial court thereafter denied the alternative motion for summary judgment, but granted the defendants' peremptory exception urging the objection of prescription and dismissed Ms. Briggs' claims with prejudice in a judgment signed January 6, 2017. Ms. Briggs timely appealed the judgment sustaining the peremptory exception raising the objection of prescription.

         DISCUSSION

         The issue before us in this appeal is simply the legal question of whether the trial court properly interpreted and applied La. R.S. 23;3O3(D) to find Ms. Briggs' claims prescribed. That statute is found in the chapter known ...


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