On Appeal From the United States District Court For the Western District of Pennsylvania; D.C. Civil Action No. 87-1399.
Stapleton, Cowen and Weis, Circuit Judges.
Sylvia Ann Trevino-Barton ("Trevino") complained to both the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission ("EEOC") and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission ("PHRC") about sex discrimination on the part of her employer, Pittsburgh National Bank. Proper filing of a complaint with the EEOC is a jurisdictional prerequisite to bringing a Title VII claim in federal court. Although Trevino's filing with the EEOC would otherwise be valid, the bank argues -- and the district court held -- that Trevino's earlier filing of a letter with the PHRC deprived the EEOC, and the federal courts, of jurisdiction. Such a result is not required by the statute's language and directly thwarts Congress' intent to make Title VII broadly enforceable. Accordingly, we will reverse the district court's judgment on Trevino's Title VII claim.*fn1
On June 22, 1987, Trevino filed a letter with the PHRC, alleging that her employer had discriminated against her on the basis of her sex. The letter stated explicitly that Trevino wished to receive a right-to-sue letter as quickly as possible and was writing to the PHRC only because she believed that was a necessary step to bringing her claim to the EEOC. A copy of her letter was sent to the EEOC.
This case was filed on July 1, 1987 alleging violations of the Federal Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) ("EPA"), and pendent state law claims. As originally filed, the complaint alleged no claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., ("Title VII").
When the EEOC received its copy of Trevino's letter to the PHRC, its investigator mailed her counsel a draft of a formal charge. The requisite interview with the EEOC investigator was held and a formal, signed charge on an EEOC form was lodged with the EEOC. This charge alleged sexual discrimination and illegal retaliation for protected activity, both under Title VII.
The PHRC and the EEOC have a worksharing agreement in which they divide responsibility for the initial processing of complaints. Under the terms of that agreement each agency waives its right to initially review claims that are first filed with the other agency. The agencies communicate with each other, however, and under the agreement an agency may request the right to initially process any case that it feels is of special interest to it.
On July 10, 1987, the EEOC transmitted Trevino's EEOC charge to the PHRC with a covering form letter. The form letter provided the following information:
SUBJECT: CHARGE TRANSMITTAL Sylvia Ann Trevino-Barton v. PNC Investment Corp. Pittsburgh National Bank
(Charging Party) (Respondent)
Transmitted herewith is a charge of employment discrimination initially received by the:
x EEOC P.H.R.C. on 07/06/87
(Name of FEPA) (Date of Receipt)
x Pursuant to the worksharing agreement, this charge is to be initially ...