The EEOC was hit with an award of $4.5 million in attorney’s fees by a federal district court in Iowa. That is, the EEOC was ordered to pay $4.5 million to the winning side in their lawsuit. Workplace Prof has discussed the award. Turns out the EEOC filed suit on behalf of one woman and unspecified other women in a sex harassment case. The employer was a trucking company with many different locations. So, as the lawsuit progressed, the EEOC added other female plaintiffs as they came forward. The women were in different locations working for various male supervisors and co-workers. The EEOC then turned the initial lawsuit into a "pattern and practice" case.
Eventually, the district court dismissed claims on behalf of some women and issued summary judgment against the rest of the women. So, the EEOC lost on all claims. At some point, there were 67 women with claims still pending but into which claims the EEOC did not investigate and did not attempt conciliation. Thus, the EEOC created a huge burden for the court and the employer, said the court.
As Law Professor explains, its a case of darned if you, darned if you don’t. If you add the new clients, then you do have a pattern of sex harassment. But, many women filed their charges after the lawsuit had been filed. So, yes, it would appear to the employer that the lawsuit would never end, as new plaintiffs joined and deadlines were extended. The EEOC could have chosen not to add the women to the one lawsuit, but then lawsuits would have been pending against the employer for years and years.
Its a case also of the EEOC simply does not perform actual investigations 99 times out of 100. Yet, they do have the power to complete investigations. More is expected of them. But, because they have so few investigators, they accomplish very little. Most US district court judges are aware of the EEOC’s limitations. But, the EEOC’s limitations essentially make more work for the federal court system.