While the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) is well-known for filing lawsuits against employers for perceived violations of even the most obscure rules and regulations, in a recent case, the agency found itself in the hot seat!
The case itself has a long and tumultuous history. It all began when the EEOC filed suit against a delivery company amid claims by a female employee of sexual harassment by two male co-workers. The suit also suggested that the company had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
However, after briefly passing through the Supreme Court, a district court found that the EEOC actually failed to follow procedure in making its claim because it failed to satisfy two crucial statutory requirements for bringing lawsuits under Title VII by not conducting a reasonable investigation and having a bona fide conciliation of the claims. Essentially, if the EEOC fails to do everything required in their own pre-suit process, they too can be held accountable (financially speaking too!) for those missed steps.
To settle the lawsuit, the EEOC was initially ordered to pay $4.7 million, marking the largest amount ever levied against the agency, but the figure was later reduced to $1.9 million in attorney’s fees for the delivery company as part of that pesky Title VII charge (which states that attorney’s fees are awarded to the winning side!)
Commenting on the decision, HR Morning notes that the take home here is that if you ever find yourself in the midst of an EEOC lawsuit, “it’s worthwhile to double-check the feds are following all proper protocols in their process and speak up if you find anything is amiss.”