By Bill Wright
In EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc. et al., No. CV-11-3045-EFS (E.D. Wash.), the court determined that the EEOC had conducted a shoddy administrative investigation and lacked a factual basis to pursue its theory of joint-employer liability against the defendants. The court invited the defendants to petition for attorney fees. They requested over $1,200,000. The court hasn’t yet finished the math. (It asked for more information about reasonable attorney rates in certain parts of the country.) But it looks fairly certain that the EEOC will have to pay over $1,000,000. I hear taxpayers all over the U.S. yelling, “Ouch!”
For its part, the EEOC argued that such a large award of attorney fees will discourage it from pursuing Title VII cases in the future. The court responded that its aim was “to discourage the filing of groundless and frivolous Title VII lawsuits – lawsuits which place a significant burden on the employer, both of time and expense, to defend against the serious Title VII charges.” That’s a lesson the EEOC could take to heart. But will it?