Baldwin County Welcome Center v. Brown

In Baldwin County Welcome Center v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147 (1984), plaintiff, proceeding pro se, failed to file a complaint in the district court within the required ninety days after the issuance of a right-to-sue letter by the EEOC after the Commission had rejected her complaint. See 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000e-5(f)(1) (1981). Plaintiff in Brown had mailed a copy of the right-to-sue notice to the district court prior to the expiration of the ninety days. Moreover, she requested the appointment of counsel during this period. However, she did not file a complaint in the district court until some forty days after the expiration of the ninety-day period. The Court refused to apply the doctrine of equitable tolling in favor of plaintiff, finding that there was nothing "in the record to call for the application of the doctrine of equitable tolling." Id. at 151. The Court observed: This is not a case in which a claimant has received inadequate notice; or where a motion for appointment of counsel is pending and equity would justify tolling the statutory period until the motion is acted upon; or where the court has led the plaintiff to believe that she had done everything required of her. Nor is this a case where affirmative misconduct on the part of a defendant lulled the plaintiff into inaction. The simple fact is that Brown was told three times what she must do to preserve her claim, and she did not do it. One who fails to act diligently cannot invoke equitable principles to excuse that lack of diligence. Id.