Title VII Requires Administrative Exhaustion

Before an employee alleging employment discrimination under Title VII may file a lawsuit in federal court, she must first exhaust administrative remedies by bringing formal charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or an equivalent state agency. This administrative-exhaustion process is designed to allow the EEOC to step in, and also gives the parties an opportunity at early settlement. If the EEOC decides not to take the case, it must issue a “right-to-sue letter,” which is evidence that the administrative exhaustion requirement has been satisfied. The employee then has 90 days to file suit.

There has long been a circuit split on how to treat discrimination claims that were never raised with the EEOC but later find their way into a plaintiff’s lawsuit. Several appeals courts treated this failure as an affirmative defense that could be waived by the employer if not timely asserted. The competing approach was to treat administrative exhaustion as a jurisdictional requirement. Meaning the defense could not be waived, thereby permitting employers (and the court) to raise the issue at any time. Prior to the Supreme Court weighing in the on the matter, the Eleventh Circuit fell into the latter camp. See, e.g., Bloodworth v. Colvin, 17 F. Supp. 3d 1245, 1250 (N.D. Ga. 2014) (“[I]n the Eleventh Circuit, administrative exhaustion is a jurisdictional prerequisite to Title VII actions.”) (citing Crawford v. Babbitt, 186 F.3d 1322, 1326 (11th Cir.1999)).

Background – Fort Bend County v. Davis, No. 18-525


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In 1966, the EEOC began requiring companies with 100 or more employees to compile employment data by race/ethnicity, gender, and job category. Dubbed EEO-1 Reports, these surveys were meant to provide a snapshot of how many racial and ethnic minorities and women were working in a company.

EEO-1 Reports Expanded

During President Obama’s tenure, the EEO-1 Report was broadened into two components. Component 1 would include the same information always collected, while Component 2 would include W-2 wage information for employees by race, ethnicity, and sex. Although designed to target pay discrimination, Component 2 was viewed as overly burdensome. Data compilation would take countless hours, while the human error rate was sure to increase on account of the significantly expanded form.


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Today’s guest post comes from Susan Smith Erdelyi, Esquire, Marks Gray, Jacksonville. She will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Fall Employment Law Conference taking place on Friday, November 10, 2017 with EEOC District Director Michael Farrell:

Did you know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is becoming paperless? That’s right. The agency now uses a portal for employer position statements and no longer accepts paper documents from employers. So, if your employer/client is still mailing paper documents to the EEOC, it’s time to step aboard the EEOC Respondent Portal.

How Does It Work?


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radical color copyWe are excited to announce that Suzanne Boy will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Employment Law Conference, taking place on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at the law offices of Hill, Ward & Henderson in Tampa, Florida. Henderson Franklin is a member of the Florida Law Alliance, a group of six independent law firms practicing throughout Florida. The firms have combined their knowledge, efforts, and resources to increase efficiency, lower costs, expand the scope and improve the quality of legal services each firm provides to its own clients.

Topics and Speakers

Avoiding and Defending Wage and Hour Class and Collective Actions presented by Attorney Craig Salner from the Clarke Silverglate firm in Miami. Employers know that the only lawsuit you win is the one that never gets filed. In the case of wage and hour litigation, this is particularly true of collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and class actions under State law counterparts. This presentation will focus ways to defend class and collective actions or better yet, avoid them altogether.
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Eeoc_logo2Thanks to Richard Cohen and his Employment Discrimination Report blog and the Washington Post for focusing attention on the recent report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about the rapid increase in retaliation claims in the workplace. For years, employment discrimination complaints (i.e., claims by employees that they were discriminated against on the basis of one or more protected factors like race, gender, national origin, age, etc.) were at the top of the EEOC charts as far as number of claims filed. However, as noted back in January 2013, since 2010 there have been more retaliation claims filed with the EEOC than any type of discrimination claim.

The big increase involves claims filed by eligible employees (those who work for employers with at least 15 employees and most public employers) that they were demoted, fired, transferred, denied a raise or a promotion or similar complaints in retaliation for having complained about race, gender, age or other types of discrimination – sometimes even where the alleged discrimination involved someone else. According to the EEOC, a record 38,539 retaliation charges were filed in fiscal year 2013.

The statistics for Florida are similar. In 2013, a total of 3,095 retaliation claims were filed, representing about 41% of the complaints filed with Florida offices of the EEOC. This compares to 2,533 race discrimination complaints, representing 33% of all charges filed.

What accounts for the increase?


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self driving car by  Steve Jurvetson flickrHere’s a novel question for you: What do so-called “autonomous” cars have in common with class action federal employment discrimination lawsuits?

As an admitted car guy, I am often taken to drawing parallels between the automotive world and the legal profession (and just about everything else in life). So when I recently came across a lawsuit filed by the EEOC, my mind wandered from the courtroom to the road. Let me explain.

First, as you may know, an autonomous car is a car that literally drives itself — a “self-driving” car. If you’ve been reading too many car magazines like me, you’ve probably read about ongoing research and development efforts by various car manufacturers to develop a truly self-driving, pilot-less vehicle. Many automotive experts predict that in a relatively short period of time — say 10 years from now, perhaps sooner — such vehicles will be commonplace on roads in the U.S. and elsewhere.

EEOC v. Bass Pro Outdoor World


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This month, the EEOC issued its controversial Enforcement Guidance: Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues. Of course, we all knew that pregnancy discrimination was unlawful, but did you know that according to the EEOC Guidance:

  • Many short term pregnancy related conditions are considered disabilities under the ADAAA, and thereby implicating a duty to reasonably

employee terminationConsider the following hypothetical:

Scenario: Amy is a receptionist for Judgment Day Church. The Church fires Amy after it learns that she had an elective abortion. The termination notice states that Amy is being terminated for violating a pledge she signed at the time she was hired stating she would not engage in immoral conduct that is contrary to Church teachings.

Which of the following statements is correct?

A.  Amy may have a claim against the Church for invasion of her Constitutional right to privacy.

B.  Amy may have a claim against the Church for pregnancy discrimination.

C.  Amy does not have a claim against the Church for discrimination because Church employees are exempt from discrimination claims under the Ministerial Exception created by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

D.  Amy does not have a claim against the Church because the alleged misconduct occurred outside regular working hours.


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