Supreme Court Sides with Plaintiffs Bar in Title VII Discrimination Case

June 07, 2019

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court signaled the new conservative majority would not always side with employer arguments in workplace cases by weakening a key Title VII procedural defense for employers.

Under Title VII, employees must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before bringing an action in court.  Employers can have cases dismissed if that process is not followed.

However, the high court rejected employer arguments that this is a non-waivable jurisdictional prerequisite to filing a lawsuit and ruled that employers can lose this procedural defense if it is raised too late in a legal challenge.

  • Although the opinion did not indicate how long is “too long,” the employer waited nearly five years before seeking dismissal of the case, which was clearly “too long” for the Court.

Takeaway:  When an employer is served with a discrimination lawsuit it should respond by timely raising exhaustion, statute of limitations, and other defenses that may apply and not rely on the Supreme Court to bail them out.