In a unanimous ruling this week, Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, No. 18-525, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a conflict among the Courts of Appeals over whether Title VII’s charge-filing requirement is jurisdictional. The Court held that the requirement that plaintiffs file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) before commencing suit is not jurisdictional; rather, the requirement, while mandatory, is merely a claim-processing rule.
The decision means that employers must timely raise any defense of failure to exhaust administrative remedies or risk forfeiting their right to assert it later. This is distinguishable from jurisdictional requirements, which can be raised at any point and are non-waiveable.
The ruling underscores the need for employers to carefully review complaints to ensure that they are in line with the administrative charges. Any failure by an employee to exhaust the administrative remedies provided by Title VII should be timely raised in an answer or motion to dismiss so that the objection is not waived.
If you have any questions regarding Title VII or this recent decision, please contact your labor and employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.