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Supreme Court Decision Regarding Discrimination Cases Lauded by EEOC

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Apr 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) unanimously ruled that reviews of EEOC's conciliation efforts may only be “relatively bare-bones” and that it's only necessary for the EEOC to “afford the employer a chance to discuss and rectify a specified discriminatory practice.”

Effectively, this ruling is a step forward for civil rights, as it may finally limit the opportunity for employers to defend themselves in discrimination suits by disputing the conciliation process.

Details of the Case & Ruling

This groundbreaking SCOTUS ruling regarding discrimination cases came out of the high court's review of Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC (13-1019). In this case, Mach Mining, LLC (based in Marion, Ill.) was accused of violating Title VII by failing to hire female miners. Despite receiving applications from qualified female applicants, the allegations were that Mach had not hired a single female miner since 2006 when the company was started.

In defending itself against these allegations, Mach's defense was based on criticizing the EEOC for not sufficiently conciliating the case prior to the a lawsuit being filed in civil court. In turn, the EEOC pushed for partial summary judgement regarding Mach's “affirmative defense.”

With the SCOTUS ruling, however, the court has noted that “such limited review respects the expansive discretion that Title VII gives the EEOC over the conciliation process” and that:

  • Intrusive judicial review of the EEOC's conciliation efforts would undermine the conciliation process while flying in the face of statutory confidentiality requirements
  • Any courts that end up reviewing EEOC conciliation efforts should not “impinge” on the EEOC's authority nor its “responsibility to eliminate unlawful workplace discrimination.”

Commenting on this SCOTUS ruling, EEOC General Counsel David Lopez explained:

This unanimous decision is great news for victims of discrimination on whose behalf we are seeking relief — and for the public, which ultimately benefits from our work. As the court noted, Title VII is about substantive outcomes. We are pleased the court rejected the intrusive review proposed by the company and its supporters. The court recognized that the scope of review is narrow and a sworn affidavit is generally sufficient to meet the statutory requirements. If the employer has concrete evidence that such efforts were not made and the court finds in favor of the employer, the remedy is further conciliation.

Atlanta Discrimination Lawyers at the Law Firm of Barret & Farahany, LLP

Have you been the target of workplace discrimination? If so, you can turn to the experienced Atlanta discrimination attorneys at the Law Firm of Barret & Farahany, LLP for aggressive legal advocacy and experienced help pursuing justice.

At Barrett & Farahany, LLP, we're willing to take the hard road, turning over every stone along the way, to obtain every piece of evidence and information that's needed to win your case. Our lawyers are innovative, persistent, and motivated, and they are ready to put their experience, skills and insight to work helping you.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany and manages the firm's case evaluation team. Because knowledge truly is power, Kathy and the Atlanta employment attorneys on her team regularly consult with and empower potentia...

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