In McLeod v. The Jewish Center of the Blind, the pro se plaintiff had brought a discrimination action, but had failed to check the boxes on the form discrimination complaint indicating that, in addition to seeking relief under Title VII, she was seeking relief under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. Her state law claims were dismissed on the pleadings and her federal claims were dismissed on summary judgment.
The plaintiff appealed, and the Second Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the district court, holding that, setting aside the unchecked items on the form complaint, based on the plaintiff's handwritten allegations, the district court should have been aware that the plaintiff was asserting claims under New York State and New York City law. The Court stated that "our holding is rooted in our well-worn precedent concerning
a district court’s obligation to liberally construe pro se submissions. We do not
expand that obligation here, nor do we purport to task district courts with the
responsibility of scouring obscure bodies of law in order to come up with novel
claims on behalf of pro se litigants. Rather, we conclude that in this case, where McLeod’s factual allegations supported claims under the well-known antidiscrimination
provisions of the NYSHRL and NYCHRL, our existing precedent
required the district court to construe McLeod’s complaint as asserting claims
under those laws, regardless of her failure to check the appropriate blank on a
The decision in the case can be found here.