Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tenth Circuit Holds that Employees Must Cooperate with EEOC to Exhaust Administrative Remedies under ADEA

The Tenth Circuit in Shikles v. Sprint/United Management Co., 426 F.3d 1304 (10th Cir. Oct. 20, 2005), has determined that a private sector employee is required to cooperate with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in connection with its investigation of age discrimination charges in order to exhaust his administrative remedies under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). This holding is significant because the text of the ADEA does not state whether a plaintiff must cooperate with the EEOC while the EEOC processes his or her charge:

Although we have not addressed whether a plaintiff must cooperate with the EEOC in order to exhaust his or her administrative remedies under the ADEA, we have held that such cooperation is required under both Title VII and the ADA. See McBride v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 281 F.3d 1099, 1107 (10th Cir.2002) ( "[T]he district court was not clearly erroneous in finding that [the plaintiff] failed to cooperate with the EEOC and, therefore, failed *1310 to exhaust her administrative remedies [under the ADA]."); Khader v. Aspin, 1 F.3d 968, 971 (10th Cir.1993) (holding that under Title VII " '[g]ood faith effort by the employee to cooperate with the agency and the EEOC and to provide all relevant, available information is all that exhaustion requires' " and continuing that "when a complainant refuses or fails to provide the agency information sufficient to evaluate the merits of the claim," he or she has not exhausted his or her administrative remedies) (quoting Wade v. Sec'y of Army, 796 F.2d 1369, 1377 (11th Cir.1986)).Thus, because we must interpret the similar charge filing requirements of the ADEA, Title VII, and the ADA consistently, we will be bound in this case by our prior Tenth Circuit authority interpreting the charge filing requirements of Title VII and the ADA, unless there is a meaningful difference between this case, McBride, and Khader.

. . .

[After finding no meaningful difference between the case before it and the cited precedent, the court stated its conclusion:] Accordingly, we hold that a private sector employee must cooperate with the EEOC in order for the employee to exhaust his or her administrative remedies under the ADEA.


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