The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been very vocal about investigating employers that deny employment upon discovery of a criminal record. The EEOC claims that these denials have an adverse affect on minorities amounting to race discrimination. But in its zealous to solicit fear and change in employment practices, in at least one instance it forgot a requirement for pursuing litigation: having sufficient facts to state a claim of relief.
In EEOC v. Peoplemark, the EEOC sued the temporary employment agency because its Vice President stated that the company has a policy against referring felons. Prior to filing its suit, however, the EEOC discovered that the company not only lacked such policy, but also had in fact hired and referred individuals with felony records to its clients. The EEOC nonetheless drafted and filed with its complaint with the hope that statistics would be in its favor.
After months of discovery and extension battles, the EEOC dismissed its claim conceding that Peoplemark was the prevailing party. Accordingly, Peoplemark was awarded with attorney’s fees totaling over $750,000. Given the public scrutiny of government in wake of the shutdown and debt ceiling disputes, it behooves the federal agency to focus on chasing actual violators of anti-discriminatory statutes rather than a goal to institute a precedent.