The EEOC, on appeal, wins an order enforcing a subpoena to investigate a Title VII claim that a no-criminal-record hiring policy has a racial disparate impact.
EEOC v. Watkins Motor Lines, Inc., No. 08-2483 (7th Cir. Jan. 23, 2009): Here’s Chief Judge Easterbrook’s succinct description of the case —
the EEOC. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-5(f), -8(c). Then there is 28 U.S.C. §1345, which creates subject-matter jurisdiction for any suit filed by the United States or one of its agencies. A district court’s belief that the EEOC should not have investigated or sued does not detract from the fact that it did ask the court to enforce its subpoena. A statute authorizes the court to adjudicate this request. That’s all subject-matter jurisdiction entails.”
“[Withdrawing a charge does not mean that a valid charge was never filed. Watkins does not contend, and the district court did not find, that Jackson’s charge was invalid when filed. All Shell Oil requires is a valid charge. Once one has been filed, the EEOC rather than the employee determines how the investigation proceeds.”
“The problem with the [employer’s] argument is that it allows litigants to achieve their settlement by injuring other, unrepresented persons. . . . That is what Watkins tried to do here by making its settlement contingent on the withdrawal of Jackson’s charge, after the time to file a new charge had expired. For the EEOC had commenced a pattern-or-practice investigation that might lead to relief for many persons in addition to Jackson. The agency and the judiciary are not obliged to abet this strategy by preferring Jackson’s interests over those of other workers. Jackson and Watkins Motor Lines are free to resolve their own dispute but may not compromise the interests of other employees and applicants in the process.”