Walters v. Metropolitan Ed. Enterprises, Inc., 519 U.S. 202, 3 (1997)

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Opinion of the Court

Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to any employer who "has fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year." 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U. S. C. 2000e(b). These cases present the question whether an employer "has" an employee on any working day on which the employer maintains an employment relationship with the employee, or only on working days on which the employee is actually receiving compensation from the employer.


Petitioner Darlene Walters was employed by respondent Metropolitan Educational Enterprises, Inc., a retail distributor of encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other educational materials. In 1990, she filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming that Metropolitan had discriminated against her on account of her sex in failing to promote her to the position of credit manager. Soon after that, Metropolitan fired her.

On April 7, 1993, petitioner EEOC filed suit against Metropolitan and its owner, respondent Leonard Bieber (hereinafter collectively Metropolitan), alleging that the firing constituted unlawful retaliation. Walters intervened in the suit. Metropolitan filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, claiming that the company did not pass the 15-employee threshold for coverage under Title VII.

Latto, Herbert J. Hansell, Paul C. Saunders, Norman Redlich, Barbara R. Arnwine, Thomas J. Henderson, Richard T. Seymour, and Teresa A. Ferrante; and for the Women's Legal Defense Fund et al. by Judith L. Lichtman, Donna R. Lenhoff, and Helen L. Norton.

Donald J. McNeil and Mona C. Zeiberg filed a brief for the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce et al. as amici curiae urging affirmance.

Sharon L. Browne filed a brief for the Pacific Legal Foundation et al. as amici curiae.

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