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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Denton County

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

December 8, 2017

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
v.
DENTON COUNTY

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMOS L. MAZZANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Dr. Martha C. Storrie's (“Dr. Storrie”) Motion to Intervene Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 (Dkt. #14). After reviewing the relevant pleadings and motion, the Court finds that the motion should be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 21, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) initiated this action against Defendant Denton County. The EEOC alleges that Defendant violated the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) by paying Dr. Storrie lower wages and/or compensation than her male colleagues performing equal work. On September 26, 2017, Dr. Storrie filed a Complaint in Intervention (Dkt. #11) asserting the Defendant violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Further, on October 3, 2017, Dr. Storrie filed a Motion to Intervene (Dkt. #14). Defendant filed its response (Dkt. #17) on October 13, 2017, and Dr. Storrie filed her reply (Dkt. #19) on October 30, 2017.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24, intervention is either permissive or a matter of right. Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a)-(b). A party seeking to intervene as a matter of right under Rule 24(a) must satisfy four elements: “(1) the application for intervention must be timely; (2) the applicant must have an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede his ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant's interest must be inadequately represented by the existing parties to the suit.” Sierra Club v. Espy, 18 F.3d 1202, 1204-05 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. United Gas Pipe Line Co., 732 F.2d 452, 463 (5th Cir. 1984) (en banc)). “If a party seeking to intervene fails to meet any one of those requirements then it cannot intervene as a matter of right.” Kneeland v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 806 F.2d 1285, 1287 (5th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. (1987).

         ANALYSIS

         Defendant makes several arguments for why the Court should deny Dr. Storrie's motion. Specifically, Defendant makes merit-based arguments and intervention arguments. First, Defendant claims intervention is improper because (a) Dr. Storrie's proposed Complaint in Intervention exceeds the scope of the Charge of Discrimination, and (b) Dr. Storrie's proposed Complaint in Intervention includes claims which are legally barred. Second, Defendant contends intervention is inappropriate because Dr. Storrie fails to satisfy all four requirements for intervention as a matter of right. In response, Dr. Storrie contends that her Complaint in Intervention is within the scope of the facts contained in the Charge of Discrimination, discriminatory actions that are time-barred may be used by a Title VII plaintiff as background evidence in support of a timely claim, and she meets all four requirements to intervene as a matter of right.[1] The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         I. Merit-Based

         Defendant makes two merit-based arguments. First, Dr. Storrie's Complaint in Intervention falls outside the scope of the Charge of Discrimination, and second, Dr. Storrie's claims are legally barred. The Court addresses each argument separately.

         a. Scope of the Complaint in Intervention and Charge of Discrimination

         Defendant argues that Dr. Storrie's Title VII claims are improper because they fall outside the scope of Dr. Storrie's Charge of Discrimination. Specifically, Defendant claims that “the instant lawsuit only involve[s] allegations of pay discrepancy” under the EPA, not Title VII gender discrimination (Dkt. #17 at p. 3). In response, Dr. Storrie contends her complaint is within the scope of the Charge of Discrimination because in the Charge of Discrimination she “explicitly states she was discriminated against based on her sex through Denton County's actions of paying her less than her male counterpart and stating that her male counterpart was worth more.” (Dkt. #19 at p. 5).

         Filing a charge with the EEOC is a condition precedent to the filing of a Title VII suit. Stith v. Perot Sys. Corp., 122 F. App'x 115, 118 (5th Cir. 2005). “A suit that flows from an EEOC complaint is limited by charges of discrimination ‘like or related to' allegations contained in the EEOC complaint.” Id. (citations omitted); accord Danner v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 447 F.2d 159, 162 (5th Cir. 1971). Stated differently, “[t]he scope of a Title VII complaint is limited to the scope of the EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of ...


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