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United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

July 13, 2004.

Walsh Construction Co.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES ZAGEL, District Judge

On November 11, 2001, Plaintiff-Intervenor Janice Lenoir filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against Co-Defendant Walsh Construction Company of Illinois ("the Company"). This lawsuit was filed five hundred and sixty (560) days later, on May 28, 2003. When Lenoir filed a Second Amended Complaint on or about February 17, 2004, she named Walsh/II in One Joint Venture ("the Joint Venture") as an additional defendant. The EEOC and Lenoir allege in their respective complaints that the Company and the Joint Venture violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e). The Joint Venture now seeks to be dismissed, arguing (1) that neither Lenoir nor the EEOC served any charge of discrimination on the employer as required by 42 U.S.C. § 2000-5(e), and (2) that the statute of limitations set forth in that section expired as to the Joint Venture before it was named as a defendant, thereby barring this suit against it.

Generally, a party "not named in an EEOC charge may not be sued under Title VII." Eggleston v. Chicago Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130, 657 F.2d 890, 905 (7th Cir. 1981); see also Perkins v. Silverstein, 939 F.2d 463, 471 (7th Cir. 1991). However, there is an exception that renders the charge sufficient to confer jurisdiction over an unnamed party if that party was provided with adequate notice of the charge and given the opportunity to participate in conciliation proceedings aimed at voluntary compliance. Eggleston, 657 F.2d at 905 (citations omitted); see also Perkins, 939 F.2d at 471; Schnellbaecher v. Baskin Clothing Co., 887 F.2d 124, 126 (7th Cir. 1989). Because the purpose of this exception is "to prevent frustration of the goals of Title VII by not requiring procedural exactness in stating the charges," parties that are "sufficiently named or alluded to in the factual statement" should be joined as defendants. Eggleston, 657 F.2d at 905-06 (citations omitted). The emphasis on voluntary compliance and conciliation in Title VII calls both for minimum standards of statutory compliance as well as exemption from failure to name an employer when the unnamed party had the opportunity to comply with the purpose of Title VII. Id. at 906. That is, an employer who had actual notice of a charge and was offered the opportunity to conciliate may properly be named a defendant, even though it was not named in the charge. EEOC v. Christie Lodge Assocs., Ltd., 51 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 916, 919 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 30, 1989).

If Lenoir's November 2001 EEOC charge naming the Company as her employer gave actual notice to the Joint Venture, there will be no statute of limitations issue and the Joint Venture will be considered a properly notified defendant under Title VII. See Eggleston, 657 F.2d at 905; Christie Lodge, 51 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) at 919. I cannot, however, determine whether the EEOC charge provided the Joint Venture with actual notice without considering facts outside of the pleading and converting the motion to one for summary judgment. See Kopec v. City of Elmhurst, 966 F. Supp. 640, 644 (N.D. Ill. 1997); Christie Lodge, 51 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) at 916. I decline to do so, and therefore deny the Joint Venture's Motion to Dismiss. The issues brought forward by the Joint Venture in its motion are more appropriately considered in a motion for summary judgment.

  For the reasons stated above, the Joint Venture's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.


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