EEOC ORDERED TO PAY OVER 4.5 MILLION TO DEFENDANT

by Art Gutman Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Psychology

In EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited [2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11125], decided February 9, 2010, a trial judge for the Northern District of Iowa struck down a pattern or practice sexual claim on behalf of 68 women and awarded $4,004,371.65 in attorneys' fees and $463,071.25 in expenses to CRST. The crux of the ruling was that the EEOC investigated the claim of one woman, and filed the lawsuit before it knew of or investigated the claims of the other 67 women. The judge ruled that the EEOC used the discovery process to find the additional women, and therefore, that “the EEOC wholly abandoned its statutory duties as to the remaining 67 allegedly aggrieved persons in this case.” The ruling implies that the EEOC abused its powers as a hammer to force conciliation. Clearly, the EEOC can conciliate and litigate, but it cannot make affected class rulings, whereas the OFCCP can. Food for thought?

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