United States: EEOC's Request For Another Bite Of The Apple Rejected At "Mach Speed"

Last Updated: December 23 2015
Article by Gerald L. Maatman Jr. and Howard M. Wexler

We have previously blogged about the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Mach Mining v. EEOC, No. 13-1019 (U.S. April 29, 2015) (most recently here and here).  As we predicted, the true impact of Mach Mining will not be known until federal courts around the country start to weigh in on its utility as a dispositive defense vis-ŕ-vis the Commission's conciliation obligation.

In an effort to take a mulligan on one of its biggest defeats, the EEOC recently attempted to have the 2009 judgment rendered against it in EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc. – in which the District Court held (and the Eighth Circuit affirmed) that that EEOC was barred from seeking relief on behalf of 67 individuals because the EEOC "wholly abandoned its statutory duties"  – vacated based on Mach Mining pursuant to F.R.C.P. Rule 60(b)(6).  The EEOC's motion is all the more interesting given that the U.S. Supreme Court recently granted CRST's petition for a writ of certiorari as to the Eighth Circuit's decision reversing the $4.5 million attorney fee award rendered against the EEOC. In this key decision, Judge Linda R. Reade of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa denied the EEOC's motion to vacate the 2009 decision based on Mach Mining on the grounds it failed to establish the requisite "extraordinary circumstances" needed to warrant such extraordinary relief.

Case Background

On September 27, 2007, the EEOC filed its lawsuit "to correct [CRST's] unlawful employment practices on the basis of sex, and to provide appropriate relief to . . . Starke and a class of similarly situated female employees of [CRST] who were adversely affected by such practices." Id. On August 13, 2009, the Court found that EEOC was barred from seeking relief on behalf of 67 individuals because the EEOC "wholly abandoned its statutory duties" by: (1) failing to investigate those individuals' claims until after the EEOC filed the Complaint; (2) not including the 67 individuals as members in the Letter of Determination's "class" until after the EEOC filed the Complaint; (3) failing to make a reasonable cause determination as to the specific allegations of any of the 67 individuals; and (4) not attempting to conciliate the specific allegations of the 67 individuals prior to filing the Complaint. Id at 2.

While the parties continued to litigate the fee award rendered against the EEOC, the EEOC did not seek U.S. Supreme Court review of the Eighth Circuit's decision regarding pre-suit requirements.  Shortly after Mach Mining was decided, the EEOC filed a motion for relief pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) seeking to vacate the Court's 2009 decision; the Commission asserted that Mach Mining "clarified the EEOC's pre-suit obligations" and that the Court's decision dismissing the 67 allegedly aggrieved individuals was contrary to Mach Mining. Id. at 3.

The Court's Decision

The Court noted that relief under Rule 60 is "an extraordinary remedy for exceptional circumstances" and that "a change in the law that would have governed the dispute, had the dispute not already been decided, is not by itself an extraordinary circumstance warranting Rule 60(b) relief from a final judgment." Id. 

The Court rejected the EEOC's argument that Mach Mining "changed the governing law and established the incorrectness of the dismissal of the case." Id. at 4. First, the Court noted that the issue in Mach Mining was to what extent a Court may inquire into the EEOC's conciliation process. The so called "class definition" – which was at issue in EEOC v. CRST –  was not a contested issue in Mach Mining. Id. at 4-5. Therefore, the Court held that, "Mach Mining is inapplicable to the instant action, insofar as it concerns inquiry into the specifics of the EEOC's conciliation process."

In language that all employers should be sure to keep handy, the Court determined that, "it is the Court's opinion that Mach Mining's statement that the appropriate remedy is to order the EEOC to undertake the mandated efforts to obtain voluntary compliance does not necessarily prevent a Court from dismissing a case where no investigation occurs" as "the issue in Mach Mining was limited to the sufficiency of the EEOC's conciliation process and the permissible level of judicial inquiry into that process. Mach Mining did not address the appropriate remedy when the EEOC fails to engage in any investigation of claims prior to the conciliation process." Id. at 5.

In closing, the Court held that "to grant relief in the instant action would open the floodgates for countless other decisions that were issued based on laws that may have changed in the interim. This scenario is the basis for the importance of the finality of judgments and the need for limiting relief under Rule 60(b) to truly extraordinary cases, cases where the denial of relief offends justice." Id.

Implications for Employers

This decision yet again demonstrates the possible wide-ranging effects of Mach Mining. In this case, the Court rejected the EEOC's request to vacate a nearly six year old judgment, and as the Court noted, avoided "open[ing] the floodgates for countless other decisions that were issued" prior to Mach Mining.  Furthermore, the Court's decision is important in that it makes clear what was [and was not] decided by Mach Mining, thus dealing a blow to the EEOC's attempt to use Mach Mining to its advantage in cases involving not just the EEOC's conciliation efforts, but its underlying investigation.  Stay tuned as we continue monitor the impact of Mach Mining as we enter 2016!

Readers can also find this post on our EEOC Countdown blog here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Gerald L. Maatman Jr.
Howard M. Wexler
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.