on employment discrimination law
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-------------------------9.100 FAILURE TO TIMELY FILE LAWSUIT
9.130 When filing period begins
9.131 Issuance of right-to-sue letter
9.131.60 When state is defendant, right to sue letter must be obtained from Department of Justice
In Hiller v. Oklahoma ex rel. Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Com'n, 327 F.3d 1247 (10th Cir. 2003), the court held that where the state is the defendant, Title VII requires a plaintiff to obtain a right to sue letter from the Attorney General. See, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1). However, the EEOC, with the backing of the Department of Justice, has interpreted this statute to authorize the EEOC to issue a right to sue letter in those cases where it determined there is no reasonable cause to believe Title VII was violated. On the other hand, if the EEOC finds reasonable cause, it refers the matter to the Attorney General. But Tenth Circuit precedent does not follow the EEOC regulation. It follows the statute. Therefore, Hiller must comply with the statue by obtaining a right to sue letter from the Attorney General. However, the Attorney General routinely refuses to issue right to sue letters -- and refused to do so in this case after Hiller learned of this requirement and requested a right to sue letter. As a result, the Tenth Circuit holds that equitable considerations excuse Hiller from obtaining a right to sue letter from the Attorney General.
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