Jenner & Block

Firm Wins Victory for Former Government Employees in Long-Running Dispute

Jenner & Block victory for a group of Commerce Department employees who sued under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The legal battle began almost 20 years ago when the first administrative class complaint alleging racial discrimination was brought against the Department.  In 2005, after spending more than a decade in the administrative process without a final decision, the employees filed suit in federal court.  In 2012, a district court granted the Department’s motion to dismiss the case, agreeing that although the lawsuit was timely under Title VII’s statute of limitations, a general six-year statute of limitations applying to civil suits against the government had run out.  The firm served as court-appointed amicus supporting the employees on appeal.  On January 6, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the lower court had erred and remanded the case back to the court, holding that the six-year statute of limitations for civil claims filed against the government does not apply to Title VII suits brought by federal employees.  In an article in Law360, Associate Elizabeth Bullock, who argued the case, is quoted saying the next step rests with the Department of Justice and whether it will seek review by the full D.C. Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.  News of the D.C. Circuit’s decision was also reported in Bloomberg BNA and in Law360’s “Legal Lions & Lambs” column in which the government is described as a “legal lamb” due to the resurrection of the complaint. Others on the team include Partners David W. DeBruin and Matthew S. Hellman.