Holowecki and thirteen named plaintiffs filed a class action law suit against the Federal Express Corporation claiming age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Three of the named plaintiffs had filed "Intake Questionnaires" with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prior to filing the law suit in federal district court. The district court dismissed the claims as time-barred, concluding that each named plaintiff failed to comply with the ADEA’s time limit requirements under 29 U.S.C. § 626(d), in part because the "Intake Questionnaires" were not "charges" filed with the EEOC. The ADEA requires plaintiffs to file a timely charge with the EEOC before bringing a law suit, but does not define the term “charge.”
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The Court held that an EEOC "Intake Questionnaire" was a "charge" within the meaning of the ADEA, as long as it provided the minimal information required to demonstrates a party’s intent to activate the administrative process. Accordingly, the Intake Questionnaires that the plaintiffs filed with the EEOC satisfied the ADEA's time limit requirements.
Whether the Second Circuit erred in concluding, contrary to the law of several other circuits and implicating an issue this Court has examined but not yet decided, that an "intake questionnaire" submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") may suffice for the charge of discrimination that must be submitted pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. ("ADEA"), even in the absence of evidence that the EEOC treated the form as a charge or the employee submitting the questionnaire reasonably believed it constituted a charge.
Supreme Court Opinion