The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court on defendant Crownline Boats
Inc.'s ("Crownline") motion to dismiss this case pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and alternative motion
for stay (Doc. 3). Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) has responded to the motion (Doc. 6), and
Crownline has replied to the EEOC's response (Doc. 10).
In order to decide this motion, the Court only needs to
consider the basic facts to which each party agrees. Leslie
Kearney, a former employee of Crownline, was discharged on
February 14, 2003 because she was pregnant. At the time of
Kearney's termination, Crownline had a policy of not allowing
pregnant women to work in the Lamination Department, the
department in which Kearney was working when she was discharged.
On April 21, 2003, Kearney filed a charge with the EEOC alleging
that Crownline discharged her based on sex, specifically
pregnancy, in violation of Section 703(a)(1) of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(a)(1).
Around June 19, 2003, Crownline tendered to Kearney an offer to
return to work with full reinstatement and seniority, but Kearney
chose to wait until the birth of her child before returning to work on September 15, 2003. Crownline has
voluntarily instituted new policies and procedures concerning its
pregnant employees. These procedures, Crownline alleges, were
instituted to address the EEOC's concerns.
On December 16, 2003, the EEOC issued its Letter of
Determination stating it had reasonable cause to believe
Crownline discriminated against Kearney and a class of Crownline
employees because of sex, pregnancy specifically. The Letter of
Determination also asked Crownline to take part in conciliation
efforts by proposing terms for a conciliation agreement.
Crownline shortly responded by setting forth an initial offer of
an agreement not to terminate any employee because of their
pregnancy and an agreement to refrain from engaging in future
unlawful employment acts. The EEOC responded with an oral
conciliation demand of $250,000 in back pay and other make whole
relief for other class members, as well as a demand that
Crownline institute training, posting and a policy change.
Crownline made an oral counteroffer on February 6, 2004, which
included back pay for Kearney. On February 18, 2004, Crownline
offered a written counteroffer of $4,338.57 as full back pay for
Kearney, less any amount she received in the interim. Further,
Crownline stated it refused to make a settlement offer regarding
any other class members nor did it comment on the EEOC's training
and policy change requests. After Crownline's written
counteroffer, the EEOC issued a letter stating the conciliation
efforts had been unsuccessful.
On November 24, 2004, the EEOC then filed a complaint with this
Court pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC alleges
Crownline has violated Section 703(a)(1) of Title VII,
42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1), specifically, because Crownline discharged Kearney and others
because of sex, in particular, pregnancy. The EEOC has requested
a permanent injunction enjoining Crownline from engaging in
discrimination based on sex and pregnancy, an order for Crownline
to remedy past and present violations of Title VII by instituting
policies and programs to provide equal employment opportunities
for females, an order for Crownline to make whole Kearney and the
class, and other appropriate relief. Crownline subsequently filed
this motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and alternative motion for stay.
Crownline argues this motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction should be granted because the EEOC has not
attempted good faith conciliation efforts with Crownline and that
Crownline was ready, willing, and able to conciliate at all
times. By bringing this motion under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1), Crownline assumes that good faith
conciliation is a jurisdictional prerequisite, which must be
attempted before this Court has authority to hear this action.
The EEOC has responded to Crownline's motion to dismiss asserting
that it has attempted good faith conciliation. The EEOC points
out in a footnote that conciliation is not a jurisdictional
prerequisite, but nevertheless alternatively argues that it has
attempted good faith conciliation and Crownline's motion should
be denied, regardless.
Crownline replied to the EEOC's response. Crownline further
argues the EEOC has admitted it made no effort to conciliate the
class claim, and the EEOC has conceded that it failed to satisfy
its statutory obligation of conciliation with Kearney.
Although Crownline asks the Court to dismiss the EEOC's
complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the
EEOC has failed to attempt good faith conciliation efforts, the Court finds it unnecessary to determine the sufficiency of the
conciliation at this time. Neither good faith conciliation, nor
conciliation in general, are jurisdictional prerequisites to
this Court's authority over the matter. The Seventh Circuit Court
of Appeals has not stated directly whether conciliation is a
jurisdictional prerequisite to the EEOC filing a complaint.
However, principles of statutory construction, policy analysis,
and opinions by the United States Supreme Court and the Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals addressing similar issues guide this
Court to the determination that conciliation is not a
Statutory duties and conditions precedent, such as the
administrative duty to conciliate, are preconditions to suit.
Although the parties and other courts, on occasion, have
carelessly referred to preconditions to suit as being
jurisdictional in nature, preconditions are altogether different
than jurisdictional prerequisites. Preconditions to suit are a
duty that must be performed before a suit can ...