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Lewis v. City of Chicago  (08-974) 
In disparate impact case, the use of an earlier unlawful employment practice states a claim. 

Decided May 24, 2010
[Opinion full text

The City administered a written test to firefighter job applicants in 1995. The City notified applicants of the results at the end of January 1996. Plaintiffs filed an EEOC charge on March 21, 1997 claiming that the test had a disparate impact on black applicants and was not a valid test of firefighting aptitude. The charge was filed more than 400 days after the plaintiffs were notified, but within 300 days of the City's beginning to hire applicants. The trial court ruled that each hiring was a fresh violation of Title VII, so the plaintiffs' suit was timely. The 7th Circuit reversed, finding that "discrimination was complete when the tests were scored" and "was discovered when the applicants learned the results." Therefore, the EEOC charge was not filed on time.

The US Supreme Court unanimously reversed, holding that a plaintiff who does not file a timely charge challenging the adoption of a practice may assert a disparate-impact claim in a timely charge challenging the employerís later application of that practice as long as he alleges each of the elements of a disparate-impact claim. Here, the question was not whether the claim based on the City's conduct was timely, but whether it can be the basis for a disparate-impact claim at all. The Court concluded that it can be. The Court said, "a plaintiff establishes a prima facie disparate-impact claim by showing that the employer 'uses a particular employment practice that causes a disparate impact' on one of the prohibited bases."

Case below: Lewis v. City of Chicago (7th Cir 06/04/2008) 
Official docket sheet 
Certiorari granted September 30, 2009. 
Oral argument:  February 22, 2010.   [Transcript

Question presented:  

Under Title VII, a plaintiff seeking to bring suit for employment discrimination must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days after the unlawful employment practice occurred. Where an employer adopts an employment practice that discriminates against African Americans in violation of Title VIIís disparate impact provision, must a plaintiff file an EEOC charge within 300 days after the announcement of the practice, or may a plaintiff file a charge within 300 days after the employerís use of the discriminatory practice?

Certiorari Documents: 

Briefs on the merits: 


  • For Petitioners Lewis et al.: Matthew Colangelo; NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.; 99 Hudson Street; New York, NY  10013; (212) 965-2200 and Judson Hirsch Miner; Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.; 14 W. Erie Street; Chicago, IL  60654; (312) 751-1170.  
  • For Respondent City of Chicago: Nadine J. Wichern; Assistant Corporation Counsel; Suite 800, 30 North LaSalle Street; Chicago, IL  60602; (312) 744-7768.

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