SCOTUS Opinion: Title VII Claims Not Limited To Those Made To Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

In Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, Lois M. Davis filed a charge of sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting the harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While the EEOC was investigating, the employer fired Davis when she went to a church function instead of work on Sunday. Davis handwrote “religion” on an intake questionnaire to the EEOC, but did not formally amend her charge document. The EEOC ultimately issued a right-to-sue letter to Davis, who filed suit based on religious discrimination and retaliation. After years of litigation, the employer argued that the court lacked jurisdiction over the religious discrimination claim because it was not part of the original charging document. The district court dismissed the claim, but the Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that the requirement to file charges with the EEOC was not a jurisdictional one, just a prerequisite to suit. The Court, in a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, affirmed, holding that Title VII’s charge-filing rule was a nonjurisdictional claim-processing rule, separate from the statutory limitations on federal court jurisdiction. The Court also held that the employer had forfeited its challenge because it was not timely asserted. A link to the opinion is here.