Walters v. Metropolitan Ed. Enterprises, Inc., 519 U.S. 202, 4 (1997)

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Cite as: 519 U. S. 202 (1997)

Opinion of the Court

The District Court granted Metropolitan's motion to dismiss, 864 F. Supp. 71 (ND Ill. 1994), relying on Zimmerman v. North American Signal Co., 704 F. 2d 347, 354 (CA7 1983), which affirmed a District Court's decision to count employees toward the 15-employee threshold only on days on which they actually performed work or were being compensated despite their absence. On appeal from the District Court's judgment, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed Zimmerman. 60 F. 3d 1225 (CA7 1995). We granted certiorari. 516 U. S. 1171 (1996).


Petitioners' suit rests on Title VII's antiretaliation provision, 42 U. S. C. 2000e-3(a), which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any of its employees for filing complaints of discrimination. Metropolitan was subject to Title VII, however, only if, at the time of the alleged retaliation, it met the statutory definition of "employer," to wit: "a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce 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." 2000e(b).

Metropolitan's "working days" are Monday through Friday, and the "current" and "preceding" calendar years for purposes of the retaliatory-discharge claim are 1990 and 1989. The parties have stipulated that Metropolitan failed to satisfy the 15-employee threshold in 1989. During most of 1990, Metropolitan had between 15 and 17 employees on its payroll on each working day; but in only nine weeks of the year was it actually compensating 15 or more employees on each working day (including paid leave as compensation). The difference resulted from the fact that Metropolitan had two part-time hourly employees who ordinarily skipped one working day each week.*

*Walters (but not the EEOC) alleged that, in addition to violating Title VII's antiretaliation provision, Metropolitan also violated the basic antidiscrimination provision, 42 U. S. C. 2000e-2(a), by failing to promote her to


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