Supreme Court of the United States
Case No. 18-525
June 3, 2019
In a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, the Supreme Court held that Title VII’s charge-filing requirement as to the substance of a charge is not jurisdictional, but rather is a prudential prerequisite to suit. 
Davis completed an intake questionnaire and filed a charge of discrimination alleging she was retaliated against for reporting sexual harassment. After her discharge, she modified her intake questionnaire to reference a failure to accommodate her religion, but she did not modify her charge. The Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer as to the retaliation claim, but reversed summary judgment as to Davis’s religion-based claim. After the Supreme Court denied certiorari, the employer moved to dismiss asserting, for the first time, that the district court lacked jurisdiction because Davis had not presented the religion claim in her charge. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling in favor of the employer on that motion. The Supreme Court then granted certiorari to resolve a conflict amongst the Courts of Appeals. 

The Supreme Court explained that it has undertaken to ward off excessive use of the term “jurisdictional,” which is generally reserved for prescriptions of the classes of cases a court may entertain and persons over whom the Court may exercise adjudicatory authority. Citing Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp . , it opined that “[w]hen Congress does not rank a [prescription] as jurisdictional, courts should treat the restriction as nonjurisdictional in character” and held that “Title VII’s charge-filing requirement is a processing rule, albeit a mandatory one, not a jurisdictional prescription delineating the adjudicatory authority of courts.” The Court further opined that an objection based on a mandatory claim-processing rule may be forfeited, as in this case, if the party waits too long to present it.
[ Author’s Note : In Zipes v. Trans World Airlines, Inc. , the Supreme Court had already reached this conclusion as to the time requirements for filing charges . While this decision can be viewed as a logical extension of the Zipes holding, the Supreme Court’s decision is broadly written. While the specific factual issue in this case was whether the failure to reference a category of discrimination in the charge that was referenced in the administrative filings was a jurisdictional defect, the Court’s holding suggests that the failure to file any charge at all is a waivable defect. Interestingly, even if the Court had ruled in the employer’s favor, the plaintiff may have ultimately prevailed on the religion claim because the facts of this case could support a scope of the investigation determination in the plaintiff’s favor. 
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals 
Weekly Update
 June 15, 2019

Published Cases

There were no published labor or employment cases last week.
Unpublished Cases
Case Nos. 18-13535; 19-11185
June 7, 2019
The Eleventh Circuit upheld the district court’s decision allowing the defendant, Akima Global Services, to amend its answer after the deadline to assert the federal enclave defense, but vacated and remanded the district court’s decision that the federal enclave doctrine barred King’s FCRA claims. 
King was employed by Doyan-Akal JV, which provided services at Krome Detention Center under a federal government contract. After Doyan’s contract expired, the federal government contracted with Akima to provide services at Krome. The new contract required all existing employees to apply to, and interview with, Akima. King was not hired by Akima, which he alleged was due to his race, religion, and national origin.
The federal enclave doctrine provides that the federal government has exclusive legislative rights over certain federal territories or “enclaves.” Generally, only state law in effect at the time the enclave was ceded to the federal government applies to the enclave. Akima raised the federal enclave doctrine as a defense after the Southern District of Florida issued an opinion in Booker v. Doyon Security Services, LLC , which held the doctrine barred a different Krome employee from raising state employment claims. The district court cited Booker as the basis for granting Akima’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. In vacating the district court’s decision, the Eleventh Circuit explained that the record did not conclusively establish Krome was a federal enclave and set forth several unresolved issues pertaining to the application of the doctrine to the Krome property.
Case No. 17-15081
June 5, 2019
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on the plaintiff’s FLSA claim for unpaid overtime and her claims for retaliatory discharge under the Section 1981, Title VII, and the FLSA. Langston served as the House Manager of a home for a severely disabled resident, where she supervised other staff. She was discharged when she failed to work a weekend in place of a staff member who called out, after Langston had been instructed to do so. 
Concluding that the district court properly determined that the defendant was a government agency, Langston’s Section 1981 claim failed under Jett and her Title VII claim failed because she did not obtain a right-to-sue letter from the Department of Justice. Applying the regulations for the executive exemption, the Court concluded that Langston had not raised a triable issue of fact as to either the salary basis or duties tests for the exemption, and that the exemption was satisfied under the record evidence. Finally, the Court concluded that Langston had failed to show pretext as to the employer’s explanation for her discharge; at best, the evidence showed that her supervisor and the higher-level manager had different understandings as to the instruction she had received. 
Florida District Courts of Appeal
Two Florida District Court cases involved arbitration issues. In Fountainbleu LLC v. Hire Us, Inc. , Case No. 2D18-4068 (Fla. 2d DCA June 7, 2019), the Court granted a certiorari petition and quashed an order of the trial court which ordered a case to arbitration without first determining whether it had personal jurisdiction over the defendants. The trial court had referred to arbitration pending motions to dismiss alleging lack of personal jurisdiction, but the District Court held that the trial court erred in issuing an order which necessarily subjected the defendants to the court’s jurisdiction without first determining the jurisdictional issues. 
In Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #20 v. City of Miami , Case No. 3D18-1956 (Fla. 3d DCA June 5, 2019), the District Court affirmed a trial court’s order denying the union’s motion for civil contempt, which contended that the employer had failed to comply with an arbitration order. The City had reinstated the employee as ordered, but pursuant to FDLE rules had required him to undergo a medical review and drug test due to a break in service. The employee refused and was subsequently discharged. The District Court rejected the union’s contention that he was to be reinstated with no break in service. 
The Eleventh Circuit Weekly Update was prepared by Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission staff: case summaries by Chairman Frank E. Brown, and Appellate Counsel Cristina A. Velez and Katie E. Sabo; editing by Deputy General Counsel and Chief Appellate Attorney Amanda L. Neff; research and layout by Research Attorney Lesley Blanton.