The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has come to the conclusion that filing a timely charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is not a jurisdictional prerequisite to bringing a lawsuit in court. Instead, the court has decided that the failure to file a timely charge can be raised by an employer only as an affirmative defense. The Tenth Circuit thus joins most other federal appeals courts that have ruled on the issue.

In practical terms, the court’s ruling in Lincoln v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 17-3120 (10th Cir. August 17, 2018), means that the Tenth Circuit will no longer uphold automatic dismissal of a lawsuit without further inquiry in a case where the plaintiff failed to file a timely charge. Instead, the employer must now raise the issue as a defense, leaving the window open for the plaintiff to argue that there were extenuating circumstances that overrode his or her failure to file a timely charge.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.