Last week the Associated Press reported that the EEOC was sanctioned by a US District Court judge for $4.7 million dollars. The sanctions were awarded because the EEOC brought a number of frivolous and groundless claims against trucking company CRST.
According to the opinion, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in 2007 against CRST alleging sexual harassment of a number of female employees. In litigation over the next three years, the EEOC could not prove its claims and CRST sought to recover its attorney fees for defending the suit. The Court ruled that 153 claims of the total claims brought by the EEOC initially were without foundation and sanctioned the EEOC approximately $4.5 million dollars.
The EEOC appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. On a technicality the case was reversed and returned to the US District Court for further rulings. Again CRST sought its fees and again the judge ruled in its favor, this time adding the fees CRST incurred on the appeal.
This is an important decision for employers. It will hopefully cause the often overzealous EEOC to temper its approach. It also provides the basis for other employers across the US and Texas to make the same request if they prevail in a claim against the EEOC. With the real possibility of recovering their fees, hopefully more employers will stand up to EEOC abuses and further reign in the agency’s excesses.
Of course, the sadest part of the whole situation in my opinion is that we the tax payers to this already strapped government will bear the cost of paying CRST. Someone should be held accountable for the consequence to us and I, for one, have asked my representatives in Congress to do so.