In Payne v. Salazar, No. 09-5291, an action alleging retaliation in violation of Title VII, the court affirmed in part the dismissal of the action for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, holding that the district court properly held that plaintiff failed to exhaust one of her claims. However, the court reversed in part on the ground that an employee's right to trial de novo -- whether her employer is the federal government or a private company -- means that she is entitled to a plenary trial of whatever claims she brings to court, and it does not mean that she must sue on claims she has no interest in pursuing.
As the court wrote: "This case raises an important and largely undecided issue under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The government contends that a federal employee who wins one Title VII claim before her agency, but loses another, must put the first at risk in order to seek relief on the second in federal court. Finding no basis for the government's interpretation of the statute, we reject that contention."
- Full Text of Payne v. Salazar, No. 09-5291