Supreme Court Watch: SCOTUS Grants Certiorari on Title VII Case
January 15, 2019
By: Grace E. Hurney
On January 12, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in Fort Bend County v. Davis, which questions whether Title VII’s requirement that a plaintiff exhaust their administrative remedies is a jurisdictional prerequisite to suit or instead a waivable claim processing rule.
Before filing a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an individual who alleges that he or she has been the victim of employment discrimination must first file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The question that the Supreme Court has agreed to review is whether federal courts have the power to preside over Title VII claims if a plaintiff did not file a charge with the EEOC, or whether Title VII’s requirement that a plaintiff go to the EEOC first is instead what is known as a “claim-processing rule”—a rule requiring someone to take specific steps, often to promote order—that can be waived or forfeited.
If the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the Fifth Circuit and decides that Title VII’s exhaustion requirement is not jurisdictional, it would take away a long-standing defense for employers and may result in the filing of more lawsuits as individuals would no longer have to first go through the administrative process.