Some cases look a lot more important at first glance than what they turn out to be. Case in point, today’s decision in Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, Case No. 18-525 (U.S. Sup. Ct. June 3, 2019). The Court’s holding was that Title VII’s charge-filing requirement is not jurisdictional. In the end, however, the holding largely means that the requirement is still a defense, but it is one that must be asserted and pursued by the defendant.
The facts of the case were pretty straightforward. Lois Davis was an IT worker for Fort Bend County who complained of sexual harassment by her supervisor. After his resignation, she accused his successor of retaliating against her and filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaining of sexual harassment and retaliation. Some time afterwards, she was scheduled to work on a Sunday. After the new supervisor refused her offer to trade shifts with a co-worker so she could attend church services, she was discharged. Davis then wrote “religion” by hand on an EEOC charge intake form, but she never formally amended her charge. After the EEOC issued its notice of right to sue, she filed suit under Title VII, alleging both retaliation and religious discrimination. Continue Reading