CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT.
Brennan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Stewart, White, Marshall, and Blackmun, JJ., joined, and in all but Part III of which Burger, C. J., and Powell, Rehnquist, and Stevens, JJ., joined. Blackmun, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 765. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Burger, C. J., and Powell and Rehnquist, JJ., joined, post, p. 767.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
Section 14 (b) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 81 Stat. 607, as set forth in 29 U. S. C. § 633 (b), provides in pertinent part:
"In the case of an alleged unlawful practice occurring in a State which has a law prohibiting discrimination in employment because of age and establishing or authorizing a State authority to grant or seek relief from such discriminatory practice, no suit may be brought under section 626 of this title before the expiration of sixty days after proceedings have been commenced under the State law, unless such proceedings have been earlier terminated: Provided,. . . [if] any requirement for the commencement of such proceedings is imposed by a State authority other than a requirement of the filing of a written and signed statement of the facts upon which the proceeding is based, the proceeding shall be deemed to have been commenced for the purposes of this subsection at the time such statement is sent by registered mail to the appropriate State authority."
This case presents three questions under that section. First, whether § 14 (b) requires an aggrieved person to resort to appropriate state remedies before bringing suit under § 7 (c) of the ADEA, 29 U. S. C. § 626 (c). Second, if so, whether the state proceedings must be commenced within time limits specified by state law in order to preserve the federal right of action. Third, if so, whether any circumstances may excuse the failure to commence timely state proceedings.
We hold that § 14 (b) mandates that a grievant not bring suit in federal court under § 7 (c) of the ADEA until he has first resorted to appropriate state administrative proceedings. We also hold, however, that the grievant is not required by § 14 (b) to commence the state proceedings within time limits specified by state law. In light of these holdings, it is not
necessary to address the question of the circumstances, if any, in which failure to comply with § 14 (b) may be excused.
Respondent Joseph Evans was employed by petitioner Oscar Mayer & Co. for 23 years until his involuntary retirement in January 1976. On March 10, 1976, respondent filed with the United States Department of Labor a notice of intent to sue the company under the ADEA. Respondent charged that he had been forced to retire because of his age in violation of the Act. At approximately this time respondent inquired of the Department whether he was obliged to file a state complaint in order to preserve his federal rights. The Department informed respondent that the ADEA contained no such requirement. Relying on this official advice, respondent refrained from resorting to state proceedings. On March 7, 1977, after federal conciliation efforts had failed, respondent brought suit against petitioner company and company officials in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.
Petitioners moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the Iowa State Civil Rights Commission was empowered to remedy age discrimination in employment and that § 14 (b) required resort to this state remedy prior to the commencement of the federal suit. The District Court denied the motion, and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed.*fn1 580 F.2d 298 (1978). We granted certiorari, 439 U.S. 925 (1978). We reverse.
Petitioners argue that § 14 (b) mandates that in States with agencies empowered to remedy age discrimination in employment (deferral States) a grievant may not bring suit
under the ADEA unless he has first commenced a proceeding with the appropriate state agency. Respondent, on the other hand, argues that the grievant has the option of whether to resort to state proceedings, and that § 14 (b) requires only that grievants choosing to resort to state remedies wait 60 days before bringing suit in federal court. The question of construction is close, but we conclude that petitioners are correct.
Section 14 (b) of the ADEA was patterned after and is virtually in haec verba with § 706 (c) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (formerly § 706 (b)), 78 Stat. 259, as redesignated, 86 Stat. 104, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-5 (c).*fn2 The relevant portion of § 706 (c) reads as follows:
"In the case of an alleged unlawful employment practice occurring in a State, . . . which has a . . . law prohibiting the unlawful employment practice alleged and establishing or authorizing a State . . . authority to grant or seek relief from such practice . . . , no charge may be filed . . . by the person aggrieved before the expiration of sixty days after proceedings have been commenced under the State . . . law, unless such proceedings have been earlier terminated. . . ."
Congress intended through § 706 (c) to screen from the federal courts those problems of civil rights that could be settled to the satisfaction of the grievant in "a voluntary and localized manner." See 110 Cong. Rec. 12725 (1964) (remarks of Sen. Humphrey). The section is intended to give state agencies a limited opportunity to resolve problems of employment discrimination and thereby to make unnecessary, resort to federal relief by victims of the discrimination. See Voutsis v. Union Carbide Corp., 452 F.2d 889 (CA2 1971).
Because state agencies cannot even attempt to resolve discrimination complaints not brought to their attention, the section has been interpreted to require individuals in deferral States to resort to appropriate state proceedings before bringing suit under Title VII. See Love v. Pullman Co., 404 U.S. 522 (1972); Olson v. Rembrandt Printing Co., 511 F.2d 1228 (CA8 1975).*fn3
Since the ADEA and Title VII share a common purpose, the elimination of discrimination in the workplace, since the language of § 14 (b) is almost in haec verba with § 706 (c), and since the legislative history of § 14 (b) indicates that its source was § 706 (c), we may properly conclude that Congress intended that the construction of § 14 (b) should follow that of § 706 (c). See Northcross v. Memphis Board of Education, 412 U.S. 427, 428 (1973). We therefore conclude that § 14 (b), like § 706 (c), is intended to screen from the federal courts those discrimination complaints that might be settled to the satisfaction of the grievant in state proceedings. We further conclude that prior resort to appropriate state proceedings is required under § 14 (b), just as under § 706 (c).
The contrary arguments advanced by respondent in support of construing § 14 (b) as merely optional are not persuasive. Respondent notes first that under Title VII persons aggrieved must file with a state antidiscrimination agency before filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). See 42 U. S. C. § 2000e-5 (c). Under the ADEA, by contrast, grievants may file with state and federal agencies simultaneously. See 29 U. S. C. §§ 626 (d) and 633 (b).*fn4 From this respondent concludes that the ...