» Subscribe Today!
More of what you want to know.
The Daily News
X

Forgot your password?
Skip Navigation LinksHome >
VOL. 129 | NO. 127 | Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Court to Weigh Government Duty to Settle Bias Claims

SAM HANANEL | Associated Press

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Comments ()

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider a dispute over the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's duty to try and settle charges of job discrimination before filing lawsuits against employers.

The issue has riled business groups as the Obama administration has aggressively stepped up enforcement of the nation's anti-discrimination laws.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from an Illinois mining company that was sued by the EEOC for failing to hire qualified female job applicants. The government alleges that Mach Mining has never hired any female miners since it began operations in 2006 despite getting applications from many qualified women.

The company says the lawsuit should be thrown out because the EEOC didn't try hard enough to negotiate a settlement before going to court. The Obama administration claims it is up to the EEOC – not the courts – to decide whether terms of a settlement are acceptable.

A federal judge agreed to review whether the EEOC's attempt to settle the case was "sincere and reasonable," but the government objected. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying a company could not raise ineffective settlement effort as a defense.

Federal law does require the EEOC to try to stop illegal employment practices by "informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion." But it also allows the commission to file a lawsuit if it has been unable to reach a conciliation agreement "acceptable to the commission."

Appeals courts have long been split as to how deeply to probe the EEOC's settlement efforts. Some require a minimal level of "good faith," while other courts perform a more thorough analysis. But the 7th Circuit was the first appeals court to rule that employers cannot try to dismiss EEOC lawsuits by claiming conciliation efforts were lacking. The court said that would undermine the agency's law enforcement goals and tempt employers into dragging out settlement talks.

The case has drawn interest from the business community. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups have filed a brief in the case arguing that the EEOC's recent enforcement strategy has been "sue first and negotiate later."

The Obama administration had also urged the court to take up the case and resolve the split among appeals courts over what role settlement talks should have when litigation begins.

The Supreme Court will reconsider the case, Mach Mining, LLC v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 13-1019, when its new term begins this fall.

Follow Sam Hananel on Twitter at twitter.com/SamHananelAP

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sign-Up For Our Free Email Edition
Get the news first with our daily email


 
Blog Get more from The Daily News
Blog News, Training & Events
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 38 349 15,066
MORTGAGES 111 449 19,779
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 33 91 3,886
BUILDING PERMITS 0 512 35,842
BANKRUPTCIES 62 309 14,343
BUSINESS LICENSES 18 138 5,129
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 69 385 21,817
MARRIAGE LICENSES 13 106 4,663

Weekly Edition

Issues | About

The Memphis News: Business, politics, and the public interest.