Employers may hope they can keep out of the EEOC’s crosshairs by having employees sign arbitration agreements. It usually doesn’t work.
The EEOC is free to pursue litigation, even if you end up arbitrating employee claims at the same time.
Recent case: When a Sterling Jewelers employee lost out on apromotion, she complained internally about sex bias. She was informed that company rules prohibited discussing pay. Shortly after, she was terminated.
The EEOC sued Sterling, alleging sex discrimination.
Meanwhile, Sterling was in arbitration over the same issue. It refused to cooperate with a subpoena requesting information on its pay policies, arguing that the matter was already in arbitration. The court ordered it to provide the information the EEOC requested, reasoning the actions were separate. (EEOC v. Sterling Jewelers, No. 11-00028, WD NY, 2011)