Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., 519 U.S. 337, 2 (1997)

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338

ROBINSON v. SHELL OIL CO.

Syllabus

(b) A holding that former employees are included within 704(a)'s coverage is more consistent with the broader context provided by other Title VII sections and with 704(a)'s primary purpose of maintaining unfettered access to Title VII's remedial mechanisms. As noted, several sections of the statute plainly contemplate that former employees will make use of Title VII's remedial mechanisms. These include 703(a), which prohibits discriminatory "discharge." Insofar as 704(a) expressly protects employees from retaliation for filing a "charge," and a charge under 703(a) alleging unlawful discharge would necessarily be brought by a former employee, it is far more consistent to include former employees within the scope of "employees" protected by 704(a). This interpretation is supported by the arguments of petitioner and the EEOC that exclusion of former employees from 704(a) would undermine Title VII's effectiveness by allowing the threat of postemployment retaliation to deter victims of discrimination from complaining to the EEOC, and would provide a perverse incentive for employers to fire employees who might bring Title VII claims. Pp. 345-346.

70 F. 3d 325, reversed.

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Allen M. Lenchek argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Eric Schnapper, Elaine R. Jones, Theodore M. Shaw, Norman J. Chachkin, and Charles Stephen Ralston.

Paul R. Q. Wolfson argued the cause for the United States et al. as amici curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Days, Assistant Attorney General Patrick, Deputy Solicitor General Bender, C. Gregory Stewart, and Gwendolyn Young Reams. L. Chris Butler argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Patricia McHugh Lambert.*

*Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law et al. by Paul C. Saunders, Marc L. Fleischaker, Norman Redlich, Barbara R. Arnwine, Thomas J. Henderson, Richard T. Seymour, Teresa A. Ferrante, Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, Dennis Courtland Hayes, Judith H. Lichtman, Donna R. Lenhoff, Helen

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