Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Denton County
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER. ORDERED that Dr. Martha C. Storrie's Motion to Intervene Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 (Dkt. #14) is hereby GRANTED. Signed by District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III on 12/8/2017. (rpc, )
United States District Court
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-00614
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
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.
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.
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).
Defendant makes several arguments for why the Court should deny Dr. Storrie’s motion.
Specifically, Defendant makes merit-based arguments and intervention arguments.
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.
Dr. Storrie only claims intervention is proper under intervention as a matter of right, not permissive intervention. As
such, the Court does not address the latter.
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
discrimination.” Thomas v. Tex. Dept. of Criminal Justice, 220 F.3d 389, 395 (5th Cir. 2000)
(citing Young v. City of Hous., 906 F.2d 177, 179 (5th Cir. 1990)).
In her Charge of Discrimination, Dr. Storrie complained that,
[f]rom approximately June 2015 until April 1, 2016[,] I was paid less than Marty
Buchanan, Primary Care Clinician. I was told by Matt Richardson, Director[,] that
Dr. Buchanan was worth more. I believe I have been discriminated against because
of my sex, female[,] in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
(Dkt. #17, Exhibit 1). The Court finds such statements are sufficient to support the proposition
that Dr. Storrie’s Title VII claims “grow out of the charge of discrimination.”2 See Danner, 447
F.2d at 162 (stating “[t]o compel the charging party to specifically articulate in a charge filed with
the Commission, the full panoply of discrimination which he may have suffered may cause the
very persons Title VII was designed to protect to lose that protection because they are ignorant of
or unable to thoroughly describe the discriminatory practices to which they are subjected.”
b. Dr. Storrie’s Time-Barred Claims
Defendant claims Dr. Storrie’s complaint is “problematic because it includes claims which
are legally barred.” (Dkt. #17 at p. 8). Specifically, Defendant avers that her claims are barred by
limitations. Dr. Storrie contends that “[a] discriminatory action that is time-barred may be used
by a Title VII plaintiff as background evidence in support of a timely claim.” (Dkt. #19 at p. 7).
Title VII claimants, in Texas, “have 300 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory
act to file their claim with the EEOC.” Burrell v. Crown Cent. Petroleum, Inc.,, 225 F. Supp. 2d
591, 604 (E.D. Tex. 2003) (citing Huckabay v. Moore, 142 F.3d 233, 238 (5th Cir. 1998)). If a
plaintiff does not file a claim within 300 days, that claim is barred. Id. However, “any act
occurring more than  days prior to filing ‘may constitute relevant background evidence in a
proceeding in which the status of a current practice is at issue, but separately considered, it is
merely an unfortunate event in history which has no present legal consequences.’” Merrill v. S.
“The Courts have consistently held that the charges upon which complaints of discrimination are based should be
construed liberally.” Danner, 447 F.2d at 161–62.
Methodist Univ., 806 F.2d 600, 604 (5th Cir. 1986) (quoting United Air Lines v. Evans, 431 U.S.
553, 558 (1977)).
Without determining the timeliness of Dr. Storrie’s claims, even if some of her claims are
time-barred, that alone does not preclude her from using such claims to support a claim that is
timely. As such, the timeliness of Dr. Storrie’s claims is insufficient, on its own, to prevent
Intervention as a Matter of Right
As explained earlier, a party must satisfy four requirements in order to intervene as a matter
of right. Sierra Club, 18 F.3d at 1204–05. Here, Defendant only addresses the fourth requirement,
adequate representation. As such, the Court only addresses the fourth requirement and finds that
Defendant concedes the first three requirements are satisfied.
a. Adequate Representation
Defendant argues that “[g]iven the narrow scope of this case and currently requested
damages, the EEOC can adequately represent the interests of Dr. Storrie in this suit.” (Dkt. #17 at
p. 2). Further, Defendant claims that to the extent Dr. Storrie’s claims are different, they are not
proper. Conversely, Dr. Storrie avers that her interests are inadequately represented because the
EEOC’s claims are brought under the EPA, while her claims stem from Title VII, both of which
contain different and distinct requirements.
A party seeking to intervene as a matter of right must establish that his or her interest is
“inadequately represented by the existing parties to the suit.” Id. Here, Dr. Storrie brings claims
under Title VII, while the EEOC’s claims arise from alleged violations of the EPA. Although a
Title VII wage discrimination claim generally parallels that of an EPA violation, distinct
differences exists between the two. See generally Montgomery v. Clayton Homes Inc., 65 F. App’x
508 (5th Cir. 2003). As such, the Court finds that Dr. Storrie’s interests are inadequately
represented by the EEOC, thus satisfying the fourth requirement.
It is therefore ORDERED that Dr. Martha C. Storrie’s Motion to Intervene Under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 24 (Dkt. #14) is hereby GRANTED.
SIGNED this 8th day of December, 2017.
AMOS L. MAZZANT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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