I. The Title VII Count
The defendants have raised in their motions to dismiss
and/or for summary judgment two jurisdictional and procedural
defenses to Count I, both of which are premised upon the
plaintiff's failure to comply with certain requirements of
Title VII. In addition, they challenge the availability of
compensatory and punitive damages under Title VII. Each of
these defenses will be considered separately.
A. Definition of "Employer" under Title VII
Defendant Koeller moves for dismissal, pursuant to Rule
12(b)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P., on the ground that he is exempt from
liability under Title VII because he is not an employer, as
that term is defined in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b).
Section 2000e(b) defines "employer" as "a person engaged in
an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more
employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar
weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent
of such a person . . ." (emphasis added). The 1972 amendments
to Title VII extended the definition of "person" to include
"governments, government agencies, [and] political
subdivisions," 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(a). Pursuant to the clear
language of the statute, therefore, if the Board of Trustees is
an employer and Koeller was its agent, for the purposes of this
litigation he also would be an employer who could be held
accountable for any statutory violations. Kelly v. Richland
School District 2, 463 F. Supp. 216, 218 (D.S.C. 1978). As
regards this issue, defendant Koeller does not dispute that the
Board of Trustees is an employer. Rather, he appears to be
contending that he was not the Board's agent.
Evidentiary materials submitted to the court provide facts
from which defendant Koeller's agency relationship with the
Board of Trustees can reasonably be inferred. In this respect,
plaintiff's Exhibit B is of considerable significance. Exhibit
B reveals that the Board of Trustees had specifically
authorized President Koeller to make hiring recommendations
within his administration. Accordingly, when actually making
those initial hiring decisions, defendant Koeller likely was
acting as an agent for the Board, and as such was an employer
for the purposes of Title VII.
Other courts have found an agency relationship to lie in
similar factual settings. In Schaefer v. Tannian, 394 F. Supp. 1128,
1132 (E.D.Mich. 1974), the court held that officials of
the Detroit Police Department charged with the operation of the
Department and with responsibility for its hiring and
assignment practices were "agents" coming within the provisions
of the statute. In Kelly, supra, one of the defendants, the
administrative superintendent of the school district, moved for
dismissal on grounds virtually identical to those now being
raised by defendant Koeller. The court, however, found the
administrative superintendent to be an "agent".
This court accordingly, because it believes for purposes of
said motion that he may have been the Board of Trustees'
agent, will deny this motion to dismiss defendant Koeller.
B. Motion to Dismiss Unnamed Defendant
The defendants also argue that this court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction under Title VII with respect to defendant
Koeller because he was not named as a respondent in plaintiff
Goodman's right to sue letter. In this regard, the statute
provides that "a civil action may be brought against [any]
respondent named in the [EEOC] charge . . ."
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). In her complaint before the FEPC-EEOC, Ms.
Goodman named as respondent Moraine Valley Community College
(Defendants' Exhibit I). The EEOC's notice of right to sue
letter also names only MVCC as respondent (Plaintiff's Exhibit
Q. In this suit, however, plaintiff Goodman has added President
Koeller as a defendant.
The defendants assert that the plaintiff's failure to charge
Koeller before the EEOC deprives this court of subject matter
jurisdiction with respect to him. In
this regard, the defendants correctly state the general rule
that, before a defendant may properly be sued under Title VII,
he first must be administratively charged. Mickel v. South
Carolina State Employment Service, 377 F.2d 239 (4th Cir.
1967), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 877, 88 S.Ct. 177, 19 L.Ed.2d 166
(1967). This requirement has the two-fold purpose of providing
notice to the charged party, and of insuring that all relevant
parties are brought before the EEOC so that the agency may
attempt to secure voluntary compliance with the statute.*fn1
Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., 416 F.2d 711 (7th Cir. 1969). To
allow a plaintiff to bypass the agency and proceed directly in
court against an uncharged party thus would frustrate at least
this latter purpose of the Act.
An exception to the general rule that a charge must precede
suit against a defendant, though, is found in McDonald v.
American Federation of Musicians, 308 F. Supp. 664, 669
(N.D.Ill. 1970), where the plaintiff brought an EEOC charge
against a union local for the discriminatory collection of
union fees. In his judicial complaint, the plaintiff in
McDonald added the union's recording secretary as a defendant.
The recording secretary moved for dismissal on the ground that
he had not been administratively charged. The court, however,
held that because the defendants were "substantially
identical", the statute's policy of providing notice to the
charged party for the purpose of negotiation had been
substantially met. In so concluding, the court stated:
Here the defendant, Nye, is the Recording
Secretary of Local 10-208. He is subject to the
provisions of Title VII and any notice and
investigation of the charges against Local 10-208
must have included him since it was through him
that the allegedly discriminatory fees were
collected. We therefore conclude that no useful
purpose would be served by requiring the plaintiffs
to have proceeded against him before the EEOC and
the Court will therefore not require a futile act
In the case at bar, the court believes that the plaintiff's
complaint, when read in conjunction with evidentiary materials
submitted by both sides, supports her contention that the
defendants in this suit also are substantially identical.