In a sign that courts will give the EEOC great latitude in investigating systemic discrimination charges, media giant Kable News Company has been ordered to provide the commission with a comprehensive employee list.
The message for employers: Obstructionist legal strategies probably won’t work in EEOC cases.
The EEOC requested the employee list as part of an investigation of age discrimination charges. Kable objected, claiming the request was overly broad and burdensome to comply with.
The judge in the case asked how long it would take Kable to gather the information and how much manpower was needed. When the company claimed it would take six to 12 weeks to provide the data, the judge ordered it to produce the list—in part to test the veracity of Kable’s defense.
To avoid the request, Kable would have had to prove that complying would “threaten the normal operation of its business.” The judge concluded it would not.
The judge went on to say that “the EEOC determines what may be required in its administrative investigations—not the employer.” It warned employers that, while “some employers appear to think that it’s a good idea to ‘make a federal case’ out of the enforcement of EEOC subpoenas” it will only delay the inevitable.
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