In a decision that follows more than a decade of litigation, a federal Court in Michigan has sanctioned the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency of the U.S. Government that enforces federal employment discrimination laws – and awarded the target of an EEOC gender discrimination investigation, Cintas Corporation, $2,638,443.93 in attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses. The Court’s opinion on EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION v. CINTAS CORPORATION is available at: http://www.workplaceclassaction.com/EEOCCintas8_11.pdf.
The Court justified its award based on the EEOC’s failure to investigate before filing suit and the agency’s tactics before and after filing suit, including:
- The EEOC did not investigate the specific allegations of any of the thirteen allegedly aggrieved persons until after the plaintiffs filed their initial complaint, and after it filed its own complaint years later.
- The EEOC did not engage in any conciliation measures as required by §706 action prior to filing suit on behalf of the named Plaintiffs. (Discriminatory hiring practices against female applicants in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5 are also known as a “Section 706.”)
- The EEOC did not identify any of the thirteen allegedly aggrieved persons as members of the “class” until after the EEOC filed its initial complaint.
- The EEOC failed to make an individualized reasonable cause determination as to the specific allegations of any of the thirteen named plaintiffs in this action.
In earlier proceedings in the case, the EEOC initially refused to identify the women it represented in a gender discrimination case with the claim that they should be identified only in a later phase of the case. The Court disagreed: “Defendant quite reasonably seeks to focus its attention upon the specific women on whose behalf the EEOC intends to seek damages. The information is relevant to the issues in controversy… and the EEOC has no principled reason to withhold it.” After the Court dismissed litigation brought by the EEOC, the defendant Cintas sought costs of $1,097,918.37 and attorneys’ fees of $4,595,432.89. The Court decided the EEOC owed over $2.6 million in fees and costs.
This is not the first time the EEOC has been sanctioned in federal court. As previously reported on the ESR News Blog ‘EEOC Sanctioned by Federal Court and Ordered to Pay More than $750,000 in Fees,’ a federal court in Michigan recently sanctioned the EEOC and ordered the agency to pay $751,942.48 for attorneys fees, expert fees, and court costs to a private employer, PeopleMark, Inc., a staffing company headquartered in Kentucky. The court’s opinion on EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION v. PEOPLEMARK, INC. is available at: http://www.workplaceclassaction.com/PeopleMark%20Sanctions%20Order.pdf.
The Court’s opinion on EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION v. CINTAS CORPORATION is available at: http://www.workplaceclassaction.com/EEOCCintas8_11.pdf.
For more blogs about court cases, visit the ESR News Blog at http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/court-cases/.
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