Courts crack down on EEOC’s ‘fishing expedition’ tactics

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

by Kali T. Wellington-James, Esq., Pepper Hamilton LLP, Berwyn

The EEOC has great power and considerable autonomy when investigating employers.

But that doesn’t mean the commission has carte blanche to do whatever it wants. In fact, courts have recently issued rulings that place significant curbs on some EEOC practices—specifically how far the commission can go when it suspects discrimination but doesn’t yet have proof.

Punishing aggressive tactics

In one recent case, a federal district court in Michigan slapped the EEOC with fees, costs and sanctions. The commission had sued the temp agency Peoplemark, alleging it had a blanket policy “which denied the hiring and employment of any person with a criminal record,” adversely affecting black job applicants.

One problem: It wasn’t true—some­­thing the court said the EEOC learned during the discovery phase of the litigation.

The EEOC proceeded anyway, until it couldn’t find an ex...(register to read more)

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