Envoy Air victory over age discrimination claims upheld by Fifth Circuit
Clients Envoy Air Inc.
Jones Day obtained a victory at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Dallas-based Envoy Air Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group that flies under the American Eagle brand. After a putative class of former pilots brought age discrimination claims related to pilot training under federal and Texas law, Jones Day filed a motion to dismiss in the Northern District of Texas, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to adequately plead that they exhausted their administrative remedies by filing a timely charge with the EEOC or Texas Workforce Commission. The district court granted Envoy's motion and dismissed both the federal and state age claims with prejudice. The plaintiffs appealed the dismissal, arguing in part that their failure to file a timely administrative charge was a jurisdictional bar and therefore the district court could not dismiss their claims with prejudice.
Before the Fifth Circuit, Jones Day argued on behalf of Envoy that the district court's jurisdiction and dismissal were proper under both Texas Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit authority because the failure to obtain a right-to-sue letter, even if required by statute, did not deprive the district court of its jurisdiction to dismiss the case with prejudice. The Fifth Circuit agreed, affirming the lower court's dismissal with prejudice and holding in the published opinion that exhaustion of administrative remedies, even if mandatory, is not jurisdictional.
Steven Rice and John Hinkley, et al. v. Envoy Air Inc., Nos. 18-656 (Kendall Cty., Tex.); 4-19-cv-00014 (N.D. Tex.); 19-10848 (5th Cir.)