U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number



Cert. Denied


Questions Presented

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 obligates the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (“EEOC”) to receive a charge of discrimination, provide notice of the charge to a respondent, “make an investigation” into the charge, determine whether there is “reasonable cause” to believe that the charge is true, and attempt to eliminate any alleged unlawful practices with “informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5. The EEOC cannot file a civil lawsuit until it has discharged these administrative duties.

The first question presented is: Does the EEOC satisfy these requirements when it brings broad, class action-style suits on behalf of an indeterminate and unidentified group of persons, without first identifying, investigating, finding reasonable cause, and attempting to conciliate the claims of the alleged individual victims of discrimination?

Can the EEOC litigate a claim alleging a “pattern or practice” of discrimination under Section 706 of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, or instead only under Section 707, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-6, which expressly empowers the EEOC to bring “pattern or practice” suits and limits recovery to equitable relief?

Case Updates

Cert. petition denied

October 07, 2013

U.S. Chamber urges Supreme Court to review decision that exacerbates longstanding disagreement on the breadth of EEOC's litigation authority under Title VII

June 12, 2013

The U.S. Chamber urged the Supreme Court to grant certiorari and reverse the decision of the Sixth Circuit. The Chamber argued that there is a persistent conflict in the courts regarding the scope of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's litigation authority under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If left unresolved, this conflict will continue to spur inconsistent and inefficient Title VII enforcement, thus undermining the statute's aim of prompt and effective informal resolution of discrimination claims. The Chamber argued that Title VII establishes a multi-step enforcement procedure and that the Agency is authorized to sue an offending employer in federal court, but only after it has discharged its pre-suit investigative responsibilities. Despite the importance of Title VII’s administrative scheme, the EEOC repeatedly has circumvented the process by failing to fully investigate the claims of all those on whose behalf it seeks relief, and by persistently refusing to engage in meaningful efforts to resolve such claims informally, without resort to protracted litigation. NCLC pointed out that the courts of appeals are in conflict about this decision, with the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Tenth Circuits, holding the view that whether and to what extent the EEOC has fulfilled its pre-suit obligations – including the statutory duty to conciliate discrimination charges – is largely within the agency’s own discretion and is, for all intents and purposes, judicially unreviewable. In contrast, the Second, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuits all hold the EEOC to a higher standard, one which requires the agency to conduct a meaningful investigation, make factual determinations, and endeavor to eliminate suspected violations through informal means.

Case Documents