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Sexual Harassment Case Dismissed in Light of Premature EEOC Right-to-Sue Letter

by mjpospis on December 6, 2018

in EEOC Practice, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Sexual Harassment

From THOMAS GIBB, Plaintiff, v. TAPESTRY, INC. d/b/a Stuart Weitzman, Defendant., 2018 WL 6329403, at *5–6 (S.D.N.Y., 2018):

Congress has unequivocally addressed the exclusive conditions under which Title VII complainants may bring a private suit in federal court. As this Court previously held in Henschke, “the language of section 2000e-5(f)(1) explicitly requires that one of two events occur before the issuance of a right-to-sue letter; either (i) the EEOC must dismiss the complaint; or (ii) 180 days must have run from the filing of the charges with the EEOC during which time the EEOC has taken no action.” Henschke, 821 F. Supp. at 170. Because “Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue,” Chevron, U.S.A., Inc., 467 U.S. at 84, that is the end of the inquiry, and the early right-to-sue letter is invalid.1

*6 Here, “the Original Charge was pending with the EEOC for a maximum of 56 days[,] and the Amended Charge for a maximum of 7 days” before the EEOC issued its July 30, 2018 right-to-sue letter. (Def. Brief at 7.) By issuing this right-to-sue letter before the requisite 180-day window had elapsed, the EEOC failed to comply with the explicit requirements of section 2000e-5(f)(1). Plaintiff urges that the EEOC’s regulation authorizing early right-to-sue letters is not “in direct conflict” with Title VII’s exhaustion requirement. (Pl. Brief at 9-10.) In light of the plain language of section 2000e-5(f)(1), this Court disagrees. Congress clearly expressed its will that a private Title VII suit can only follow after charges have been pending before the EEOC for at least 180 days. The EEOC cannot, by its own hand, abrogate its congressional mandate. As such, the July 30, 2018 right-to-sue letter is fatally defective and does not provide Gibb with the necessary means to initiate a private civil suit.

Categories: EEOC Practice, Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Sexual Harassment

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