Today, the Supreme Court unanimously strengthened Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, holding that the statute’s presuit “charge-filing” requirement is not jurisdictional, which means that an employment-discrimination victim’s failure to perfectly satisfy certain technical requirements before filing suit does not require automatic dismissal of their case. Rather, as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) explained in an April amicus brief in Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, courts must consider fairness, equity, and the impact on the parties and the court when considering whether a case should be dismissed on that ground.
“This ruling affirms Congress’ vision for Title VII enforcement that enlists individuals in the fight against workplace discrimination, free of jurisdictional pitfalls for those who must initiate the legal process without legal aid or expertise,” said Kerrel Murray, Appellate Litigation and Policy Fellow at LDF. “By affirming courts’ ability to excuse noncompliance with the presuit charge-filing requirement, this unanimous decision removes potential barriers to justice for employment-discrimination victims. Today’s decision will help safeguard vigorous enforcement of our nation’s antidiscrimination protections.”
Although Congress created preconditions for private persons suing under Title VII, lawmakers also knew that individual plaintiffs would have often have to satisfy those complex preconditions without the aid of lawyers. Deeming those preconditions “jurisdictional” would have been inconsistent with Congress’ desire to eliminate workplace discrimination by relying on “private attorneys general.”
Read LDF’s brief here.
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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.