by | Jun 7, 2019

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously resolved the split among lower courts regarding whether Title VII’s administrative exhaustion requirement is a jurisdictional bar to filing a lawsuit in court.  Under Title VII’s administrative exhaustion requirement, an employee must first exhaust administrative remedies by filing a discrimination claim with the EEOC before filing a Title VII lawsuit in court.

In Fort Bend County v. Davis, the Supreme Court held the administrative requirement is not a jurisdictional requirement, but is instead a mandatory claim-processing rule that can be waived when an employer defendant does not timely raise failure to comply with it.  Under the Court’s ruling, an employee’s failure to first file a discrimination claim with the EEOC (thus exhausting administrative remedies) does not preclude the employee from litigating the claim in court.  A federal court is not barred from hearing a Title VII case just because an employee failed to satisfy the administrative exhaustion requirement.

While not a jurisdictional one, the requirement remains a mandatory prerequisite for an employee to file a Title VII suit and a plaintiff’s failure to complete this step before filing suit is still grounds for a court to dismiss a case.  The decision establishes that a Defendant employer must raise failure-to-exhaust administrative remedies defenses early in litigation (i.e. when responding to the complaint or filing a motion to dismiss sufficiently early in the case) if it wants the case dismissed on failure to exhaust grounds.

If you have any questions about this decision and its implications, please contact Baylor Evnen’s employment lawyers: Torrey GerdesSusan Foster or Christopher Schmidt.

The Full Opinion is available Here.