Under Section 706(b) of the statute, the notice must include the date, place and the circumstances of the alleged unlawful employment practice so that the employer may be apprised of the nature of the charges against it. However, the name of the charging party need not be included. If the EEOC totally fails to notify an employer of the charges, the courts, as the District Court did in EEOC v. St. Anne's Hospital of Chicago, Inc.,have ruled that the EEOC could not bring a suit on that charge. The Supreme Court in Shell Oil Co. v. EEOC held that notice was adequate, even while not technically perfect. The legislative history of Title VII is clear that untimely notice by the EEOC should not be an absolute bar to court action by the aggrieved party.
Also under Section 706(b), the EEOC is required to investigate the charge of discrimination to determine if reasonable cause exists to believe that the charge is true. If no reasonable cause exists, the EEOC shall dismiss the charge and promptly notify the charging and charged party of the dismissal. If reasonable cause exists, the EEOC "shall endeavor to eliminate any such alleged unlawful employment practices by informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion." If those efforts fail, the EEOC may bring a civil suit against the employer in federal court under Section 706(f). If the EEOC does not bring suit within 180 days of the filing of the charge either by choice or because it dismissed the charge, the charging party may request notification, commonly referred to as a "right to sue" letter. Upon receipt of that letter, the charging party has 90 days to sue.
Thus, a charging party may not sue until she received a notice of dismissal by the EEOC or a right to sue letter. The charging party may demand a right to sue letter, even before the EEOC has made its reasonable cause determination, so long as the demand for the letter is 180 days after the EEOC charge is filed. However, the right to sue letter can be requested before the 180 days is up, if the EEOC investigation and determination of probable cause is completed anytime within the 180 days, or the EEOC makes a determination that the investigation is likely to take more than 180 days.
Initially, some courts held that a right to sue letter was jurisdictional for a subsequent lawsuit. Most courts now hold that it is only a condition precedent to a lawsuit, as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals did in Gooding v. Warner-Lambert Co., and that the letter could be received and submitted to the court while the litigation was pending. However, the 90-day deadline in which a charging party must file a lawsuit after receving a right-to-sue letter is strictly enforced.
General case evaluation of a wrongful discharge suit will vary in difficulty from case to case depending principally upon whether the tort cause of action may be joined with an action based on an anti-discrimination in employment statute. If it appears that the employee's discharge was motivated by race, sex, religion, national origin or age,the case should be evaluated on the strength of the statutory claim, where generally less in terms of proof is required to support a recovery. The tort claim or cause of action then should be rated more in light of its damage-enhancement potential than as a separate suit for damages. Where the facts will not support a statutory cause of action, an evaluation is more difficult, and such things as the level of acceptance of the tort cause of