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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Du

decided: May 9, 1975.

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
v.
E. I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY, CHESTNUT RUN AND AFFILIATED FACILITIES, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE. (D.C. Civil Action No. 4515).

Seitz, Chief Judge, and Aldisert and Garth, Circuit Judges.

Author: Aldisert

Opinion OF THE COURT

ALDISERT, Circuit Judge.

The sole question presented for decision is whether Section 706(f)(1) of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1), contains an implied 180-day limitation period for civil actions commenced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The district court denied duPont's motion for summary judgment challenging the timeliness of this action and certified the question under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). EEOC v. E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co., 373 F. Supp. 1321 (D. Del. 1974). We permitted an appeal to be taken from this order and now affirm. We align ourselves with decisions of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Circuits, holding that no such 180-day limitation restricts EEOC.*fn1

I.

In December, 1969 William Parker lodged a charge of racial discrimination with the EEOC against duPont. After deferral of the charge to and decision by the appropriate Delaware state agency, the EEOC, on March 29, 1970, filed Parker's charge against duPont. An investigation ensued, resulting in a determination that there was reasonable cause to believe that duPont engaged in racially discriminatory hiring practices and maintained racially segregated departments.*fn2 Efforts to arrive at a conciliation agreement proved fruitless; and, on November 13, 1972, EEOC commenced this action.

In pertinent part Section 706(f)(1) provides:

If within thirty days after a charge is filed with the Commission or within thirty days after expiration of any period of reference . . . the Commission has been unable to secure from the respondent a conciliation agreement acceptable to the Commission, the Commission may bring a civil action against any respondent . . . named in the charge. . . . The person or persons aggrieved shall have the right to intervene in a civil action brought by the Commission . . . . If a charge filed with the Commission . . . is dismissed by the Commission, or if within one hundred and eighty days from the filing of such charge or the expiration of any period of reference . . ., whichever is later, the Commission has not filed a civil action under this section . . . or the Commission has not entered into a conciliation agreement to which the person aggrieved is a party, the Commission . . . shall so notify the person aggrieved and within ninety days after the giving of such notice a civil action may be brought against the respondent named in the charge (A) by the person claiming to be aggrieved or (B) if such charge was filed by a member of the Commission, by any person whom the charge alleges was aggrieved by the alleged unlawful employment practice. . . . Upon timely application, the court may, in its discretion, permit the Commission . . . to intervene in such civil action upon certification that the case is of general public importance.

It is duPont's contention that this section requires the Commission to institute suit within 180 days after the charge is filed. Specifically, duPont urges the following construction of this section: During the first 30 days after the charge is filed, no one may institute suit; for the next 150 days only EEOC may sue; for the next 90 days only the aggrieved party may sue; after this 90-day period, all rights to sue are statutorily extinguished.

DuPont emphasizes that the date EEOC commenced this action is more than 180 days not only from the date of filing the Parker charge, but also from the effective date of the 1972 amendment.*fn3 Therefore, duPont contends, regardless of the date from which we measure the 180 days, EEOC's right to file suit is statutorily barred.

Based on an analysis of the statute itself, its legislative history and considerations of public policy, we reject this construction of Section 706(f)(1).

We start with the recognition that the statute is no model of legislative clarity. We are required to delve into statutory construction, and here we agree with Justice Frankfurter "that the troublesome phase of construction is the determination of the extent to which extraneous documentation and external circumstances may be allowed to infiltrate the text ...


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