On February 25, 2020, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment secured by MGS on behalf of its railroad client in a contentious Title VII case brought by a railroad employee.

The employee alleged national origin/citizenship discrimination, retaliation, and harassment in violation of Title VII after the railroad allegedly refused to change the employee’s citizenship status in an internal database, declined to promote the employee to conductor after he complained to HR about his citizenship status, and placed a symbol next to his name on a public employee roster to indicate that he was ineligible for promotion to conductor.

In a motion for summary judgment, MGS argued that the employee’s claims were time-barred because he failed to timely file a charge with the EEOC within 300 days of those alleged events. The Northern District of Illinois agreed with MGS and granted summary judgment in favor of the railroad. The employee appealed to the Seventh Circuit.

The central issue on appeal was whether an intake form completed by the employee constituted a charge for purposes of the timeliness of his Title VII lawsuit. The employee contended that the intake form constituted a charge and rendered timely his Title VII claims. MGS argued that the intake form did not constitute a charge because it did not request remedial action or trigger investigation by the agency. Rather, the intake form was a pre-charge screening form used to provide relevant information to the agency so it could determine whether and how to investigate.

The Seventh Circuit agreed with MGS’ appellate team. The appellate court unanimously affirmed summary judgment in favor of MGS’ client in a succinct four-page per curiam opinion.

The decision reinforces the importance of ensuring that plaintiffs satisfy administrative requirements before filing employment discrimination lawsuits.

Please contact Ray Groble or Matthew Hammer with any inquiries about this case or questions regarding other employment matters.

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