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Good faith? Judge blasts EEOC conciliation process

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A federal judge in Western Penn­­syl­­vania has chastised the EEOC for not attempting to conciliate discrimination charges in good faith.

The criticism stems from a bias complaint the EEOC investigated against a group of six Ruby Tuesday restaurants. The EEOC investigated and concluded the restaurant chain discriminated. It sent Ruby Tuesday a conciliation agreement, but the company received it just seven days before the deadline for acceptance.

It requested an additional 30 days.

The EEOC refused and instead slapped Ruby Tuesday with a $6.5 million lawsuit.

For next three years, the parties dueled with pretrial motions. Ulti­­mately, Ruby Tuesday asked the court to dismiss the charge, in part because the EEOC failed to conduct its conciliation process in good faith.

The judge refused to dismiss the charges, but did call the EEOC’s conciliation efforts “insufficient” and urged it to resolve the dispute.

He wrote, “By any measure, a demand for the payment of more than $6 million dollars, … with nine days to either say ‘yes’ or to make a ‘best and final’ response in these circumstances … is so devoid of reasonableness as to lead this Court to the conclusion that it was not a meaningful, good faith conciliation effort.”

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