Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Employment Law
  • Date Filed: June 3, 2019
  • Case #: 18-525
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: GINSBURG, J., delivered the Court's unanimous opinion.
  • Full Text Opinion

The charge-filing instruction of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not a jurisdictional rule.

Respondent filed an intake questionnaire to report sexual harrassment and subsequent retaliation by her employer with a state workforce commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While the charge was pending, Respondent was fired for failing to report to work on a Sunday. Respondent handwrote “religion” on the questionnaire in an attempt to supplement her allegations, but did not change the formal charge document. Respondent commenced civil action for alleged discrimination on account of religion and retaliation. A series of appeals followed and only the claim of religious discrimination survived. Several years into the litigation Petitioner asserted for the first time that the district court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate because the claim was not stated on Respondent’s EEOC charge. The district court granted Petitioner’s motion to dismiss, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed on the grounds that Petitioner had forfeited the assertion. The United States Supreme Court held that a claim-processing rule may be a mandatory precondition to suit without being jurisdictional, and may also be subject to forfeiture. The Court further reasoned that the requirement in Title VII is a processing rule and does not pertain to the authority of courts to adjudicate. The Court held that Title VII’s charge-filing requirement is not jurisdictional. AFFIRMED.

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