EEOC Silent on Sanctions

By John Alan Doran

For an agency that refuses to settle claims without a press release bragging about the settlement, the EEOC suddenly dummies up when it loses big. A recent decision highlights this hypocrisy. A federal court imposed a $4.7 million award for attorneys’ fees and costs (you read that correctly–$4.7 million) against the EEOC and in favor of an employer. EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., No. 07-CV-95-LRR (N.D. Iowa August 1, 2013). The EEOC had bullied the employer for years in a pattern and practice case, alleging systemic discrimination and a pattern and practice of gender discrimination on behalf of a large class of females. One of the big problems—the EEOC kept changing the list of victims of the alleged discrimination. At one point the EEOC maintained there were at least 270 plaintiffs in the case, yet after an appeal, it turns out that only one plaintiff had a reasonable claim. The EEOC unnecessarily and exponentially increased the costs of litigation by asserting bogus claims on behalf of a class that never was. A second big problem – the EEOC failed to follow its own procedures with regard to the claims it was bringing. The trial court concluded that the employer was the successful party, having prevailed on the merits over the EEOC on hundreds of individual claims, and therefore awarded the employer its attorneys’ fees and costs (less a portion attributable to the EEOC’s one reasonable claim). As of late, the EEOC has experienced a number of high-profile losses, suggesting to many that the agency’s power grabs and overreach are starting to catch up with it. Perhaps this latest fee award will temper the EEOC’s litigation zeal.

The EEOC maintains that it is a “neutral” agency—neither an “employee’s” agency nor an “employer’s” agency. Why, then, does it insist on press releases whenever it collects money from an employer and keep mum when it wastes tax-payer money on unreasonable claims?

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