EEOC Ordered to Pay Millions in Attorneys’ Fees Again

Those of you who follow such things have no doubt enjoyed the recent federal court decisions taking the EEOC to task for its “sue first, ask questions later” approach to class action litigation.  As one commentator has noted:

Perhaps the most notable of these recent cases is EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., in which the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa dismissed a sexual harassment case filed by the EEOC on behalf of 67 women, and awarded CRST more than $4 million in attorneys’ fees. The district court, in finding the EEOC’s prosecution of the case to be frivolous, unreasonable and without foundation, sharply criticized the EEOC’s litigation strategy as one of “sue first, ask questions later.” Here, the district court found that the EEOC failed to investigate the specific allegations of the 67 class members until after the civil action was commenced. In fact, the EEOC had not interviewed any of the women who were supposedly sexually harassed and did not subpoena any documents to determine if the allegations were true. Before filing suit, the EEOC also did not identify any of the 67 female class members and did not attempt to conciliate the allegations of those women. In the end, the district court found that the EEOC had not complied with its own administrative requirements and dismissed the case due to the jurisdictional defects.

Other recent cases such as EEOC v. Peoplemark, Inc., EEOC v. Bloomberg L.P. and EEOC v. Cintas Corp. point to rising judicial intolerance for the EEOC’s “shoot first” tactics. 

This point was underscored recently in the August 4, 2011 order in the EEOC v. Cintas case, awarding the employer a total of $2.6 Million in fees and costs.  In the interest of full disclosure my firm defended this case and I worked on it.  As a result, I will not comment on it but the order speaks for itself.

The attached order is reproduced by Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL with the permission of LexisNexis. Copyright 2010 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. No copyright is claimed as to any portion of the original work prepared by a government officer or employee as part of that person's official duties.



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