Title VII prohibits employer retaliation against an employee based on the employee’s filing of a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Effective enforcement of Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision is critical to the statute’s goal of protecting workers from workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. In this case, plaintiff Mischelle Richter filed with the EEOC a Title VII charge of race and sex discrimination against her employer. She was terminated just days later. After advising the EEOC of retaliation and receiving notice of a right to sue on her initial charge, Ms. Richter filed a Title VII retaliation claim against her employer in federal court. A divided panel of the Eighth Circuit held that Ms. Richter failed to exhaust her administrative remedies for the retaliation claim because she had not alleged retaliation in a charge to the EEOC. It thus affirmed dismissal of her claim. The panel’s holding exacerbated a circuit split on the question whether an employee must file a new or amended charge alleging retaliation with the EEOC before filing suit under Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision if the employer’s act of retaliation is a result of the employee’s filing of an earlier charge.
We were co-counsel for Ms. Richter, who petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case. The petition was subsequently dismissed by joint stipulation of the parties.