FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN
DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA (D.C. No. 5:15-CV-00978-HE).
V. Wilkinson, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff-Appellant.
W. Solberg (Elizabeth Bowersox, with him on the brief), of
McAfee & Taft A Professional Corporation, Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma, for Defendants-Appellees.
M. Kovnat (P. David Lopez, General Counsel, Jennifer S.
Goldstein, Associate General Counsel and Lorraine C. Davis,
Assistant General Counsel, with him on the brief), of Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of General Counsel,
Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae.
KELLY, EBEL, and BACHARACH, Circuit Judges.
Bryan "Shane" Jones appeals from the district
court's dismissal of his Title VII sex discrimination
claim against Defendant-Appellee Needham Trucking, LLC and
his state law tort claim for wrongful interference with a
contractual relationship against Defendant-Appellee Julie
Needham. See Jones v. Needham, No. CIV-15-0978-HE,
2016 WL 2659618 (W.D. Okla. May 6, 2016). Exercising
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm in part,
reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.
Jones worked as a mechanic for Needham Trucking from May to
November of 2014. 1 Aplt. App. 46. According to Mr. Jones, he
was fired because he would not have sex with Ms. Needham, his
direct supervisor and a shareholder of the business.
Jones completed an intake questionnaire with the EEOC. He
checked the boxes for "Sex" and
"Retaliation" as the reasons for his claims of
employment discrimination, and also wrote out "sex
har[as]sment." Id. at 43. He provided a
comparator, another mechanic who "was treated better
because he had sex with Ms. Needham." Id. And
he listed two witnesses, both of whom would testify that they
knew of the sexual harassment. Id. at 45. In
response to questions seeking more detailed explanations, Mr.
Jones wrote "[s]ee attached." Id. at 43.
That referenced a six-paragraph statement by Mr. Jones, which
concluded with "I was terminated because I refused to
agree to Ms. Needham's sexual advances and I rejected all
such efforts by her." Id. at 46.
the attachment never made it to the EEOC, nor did the EEOC
alert Mr. Jones that it was missing. See 2 Aplt.
App. 69-71. Nevertheless, the EEOC prepared the following
charge form on behalf of Mr. Jones:
I. I have been employed with Needham Trucking LLC since on or
about May, 2014. During my employment I was subjected to
sexual remarks by owner, Julie Needham. I complained to
General Manager, Jonathan Needham and Stephanie Needham about
the sexual harassment. Nothing was done. On or about November
3, 2014, Julie Needham terminated my employment.
II. No reason was given for the sexual harassment. No reason
was given for not stopping the sexual harassment. No reason
was given for my retaliatory termination.
III. I believe I have been discriminated against and
retaliated against for participating in a protected activity
in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
1 Aplt. App. 41.
the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter, Mr. Jones filed suit
against Needham Trucking and Ms. Needham with claims of
sexual harassment, negligence, negligent or intentional
infliction of emotional distress, wrongful interference with
a contractual or business relationship, and violation of the
Oklahoma Employment Security Act of 1980 ("OESA").
Id. at 9-15. Mr. Jones made clear that his sexual
harassment claim took the form of both hostile work
environment discrimination and quid pro quo discrimination
that culminated in a tangible employment action
"result[ing] from his refusal to submit to a
supervisor's sexual demands." Id. at 10.
Trucking and Ms. Needham moved to dismiss all but Mr.
Jones's hostile work environment claim, id. at
22-23, and Mr. Jones voluntarily dismissed his claims for
negligence and infliction of emotional distress. Aplee. Supp.
App. 16. The district court then granted the partial motion
to dismiss. It held that Mr. Jones failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies for his quid pro quo sexual
harassment claim, that his state law tort claim was precluded
by the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act ("OADA"),
and that his OESA claim failed for want of a private right of
action. Jones, 2016 WL 2659618, at *1-3. Mr. Jones
moved to dismiss with prejudice his remaining claim for
hostile work environment sexual harassment, which the
district court granted. Order Granting Motion to Dismiss,
Jones v. Needham, No. 5:15-cv-00978-HE (W.D. Okla.
June 7, 2016), ECF No. 35. This appeal
the district court described the exhaustion of administrative
remedies as a jurisdictional requirement under Title VII,
Jones, 2016 WL 2659618, at *1, our recent cases
suggest that exhaustion in this context might be better
characterized as a claims-processing obligation. See Gad
v. Kan. State Univ., 787 F.3d 1032, 1038 (10th
Cir. 2015); see also Arabalo v. City of Denver, 625
F.App'x 851, 860 (10th Cir. 2015) (unpublished); Pham
v. James, 630 F.App'x 735, 737-38 (10th Cir. 2015)
(unpublished). Regardless, our review of the district
court's dismissal for failure to state a claim or for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction is de novo. SEC v.
Shields, 744 F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014) (Rule
12(b)(6)); McKenzie v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration
Servs., 761 F.3d 1149, 1154 (10th Cir. 2014) (Rule
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment and Exhaustion of