Posted February 23rd, 2012 in Top Stories
Eighth Circuit Court Gives Much Anticipated Ruling on EEOC vs. CRST Van Expedited
On Feb. 22, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in EEOC et al. vs. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., the ongoing, five-year battle where multimillion-dollar sanctions against the EEOC were at stake. Given the severity of the penalties, the case has been closely monitored by attorneys across the country involved in EEOC litigation.
The EEOC had originally sued CRST alleging claims of sexual harassment on behalf of approximately 270 current and former female CRST employees. The District Court for the Northern District of Iowa Cedar Rapids division dismissed the claims of 120 of the 270 individuals because the EEOC failed to produce them for deposition. After discovery, the District Court then dismissed the claims of the remaining 150 claimants on a variety of bases, and additionally sanctioned the EEOC approximately $4.5 million (commensurate with attorneys’ fees and costs expended by CRST defending the litigation) for failing to comply with its Title VII pre-suit obligations of investigation and conciliation.
After the EEOC’s appeal of the sanction and the dismissal of 107 of the 270 claims, the 8th Circuit affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of all but two of the plaintiffs’ claims, but overturned the District Court’s grant of summary judgment on the two remaining claims, as well as the sanctions.
According to Joe Schmitt, NJL labor and employment attorney, this decision is significant news for employers because the Court specifically upheld the dismissal of most of the claims on the grounds that the EEOC did not seek to investigate the claims of the individual claimants before filing suit. The Court held that the EEOC used discovery to assemble its class. This ruling will impact other EEOC investigations and EEOC litigation in the Midwest and elsewhere.