Webster Williams, III v. Michael Carvajal, No. 22-6495 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a federal inmate, sued Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) staff alleging, inter alia, discrimination and retaliation under the Rehabilitation Act. The district court dismissed the action for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies. According to the court, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) required Plaintiff to exhaust both the BOP’s Administrative Remedy Program and an additional remedy, particular to prison discrimination claims, administered by the Department of Justice’s Director of Equal Employment Opportunity. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that he was only required to exhaust the BOP’s Administrative Remedy Program under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Plaintiff asserted in the alternative that the Department of Justice remedies were not “available” to him.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the PLRA’s exhaustion provision is plain. It requires prisoners to utilize all “available” administrative remedies. For Rehabilitation Act claimants, these remedies include both the BOP’s ARP and a separate EEO process administered by the DOJ. Here, Plaintiff failed to exhaust these remedies despite them being “available” to him under the PLRA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice to his ability to exhaust the EEO remedies “available” to him within the meaning of the PLRA.