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EEOC v. EAST HILLS FORD SALES

March 3, 1978

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
v.
EAST HILLS FORD SALES, INC., a Delaware Corporation



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

 Jurisdiction and Background

 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed an action against defendant, East Hills Ford Sales, Inc. ("East Hills") pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. alleging unlawful employment practices. Jurisdiction of this court is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 451, 1343, and 1345.

 Facts

 On March 28, 1975 Richard Wright had filed with the EEOC a charge against his employer, East Hills, alleging that he was being denied the right to work overtime because of his race. On August 22, 1975 the EEOC issued a determination letter stating that Wright's charge concerning overtime work, was without merit, but that its investigation had disclosed that there was reasonable cause to believe that East Hills had violated Section 704(a) of Title VII by discharging Wright the following work day after he filed his charge with the EEOC. The determination letter included an information sheet entitled Notice of Conciliation Process intended to facilitate a collective effort of the parties to resolve the matter. The EEOC later instituted this action.

 Scope of the Complaint

 In its court complaint the EEOC alleges that the defendant engaged in unlawful employment practices which "include, but are not limited to the following:

 
a. The discharge of at least one black employee in retaliation for his having made a charge of employment discrimination with the Commission under Title VII."

 East Hills, in its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, endeavors to have dismissed all claims except those relating specifically to Wright's discharge, arguing that the language in the complaint, "Such unlawful employment practices include, but are not limited to . . .", results in an impermissible broadening of the complaint by raising issues which had not been the subject of the EEOC investigation and conciliation. We agree.

 When the EEOC is unable to obtain an acceptable conciliation, it is authorized to bring a civil action against the respondent. 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(f)(1). The scope of the EEOC court complaint is not necessarily limited to the original charge. The original charge merely provides the EEOC with "a jurisdictional springboard to investigate whether the employer is engaged in any discriminatory practices." EEOC v. Huttig Sash & Door Co., 511 F.2d 453, 455 (5th Cir. 1975). The EEOC has the right, during its investigation of the filed charge, to compel the production of materials relevant to any claim made in that charge. If, during the investigation, facts to support a charge of discrimination other than that in the filed charge are discovered, that new discrimination may be the subject of a "reasonable cause" determination to be followed by an offer of conciliation. If that conciliation fails, a civil suit may be started without the necessity of filing a new charge on such claim of discrimination. EEOC v. General Electric Co., 532 F.2d 359 (4th Cir. 1976).

 In other words, the filed charge is sufficient to support a civil action by the EEOC for any discrimination stated in that charge, or developed in the course of a reasonable investigation of that charge, provided such discrimination was included in the "reasonable cause" determination of the EEOC and was followed by compliance with the conciliation procedures fixed in Title VII. EEOC v. Greyhound Lines, 411 F. Supp. 97 (W.D. Pa. 1976) citing EEOC v. General Electric Co., supra.

 When the EEOC sues in its own name, it may litigate only those claims which have been subjected to the complete administrative processing required by Title VII. Holden v. H. J. Heinz Co., Inc., F. Supp. , C.A. 76-20 (W.D. Pa., filed Oct. 17, 1977). Investigation, determination of reasonable cause and genuine conciliation are jurisdictional prerequisites for the maintenance of a civil action by the EEOC. EEOC v. E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Co., 373 F. Supp. 1321 (D. Del. 1974), aff'd on other grounds, 516 F.2d 1297 (3d Cir. 1975). See also, EEOC v. Allegheny Airlines, 436 F. Supp. 1300 (W.D. Pa. 1977).

  The relationship between the perimeters of a Title VII court complaint and the preliminary administrative processing of a charge has been judicially explored. In Sanchez v. Standard Brands, Inc., 431 F.2d 455 (5th Cir. 1970) the Fifth Circuit stated the now widely adopted rule that the scope of an individual's Title VII judicial complaint is limited to the scope of the EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the initial charge of discrimination. See also, Ostapowicz v. Johnson Bronze Co., 541 F.2d 394 (3d Cir. 1976). In DuPont, supra, and in EEOC v. Magnetics Division of Spang Industries, ...


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