03 December 2014

Law in Plain English: Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

SCOTUSblogMach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Argument: Jan 13 2015 (Aud.)

Background: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received a charge of discrimination in early 2008 from a woman who claimed Mach Mining had denied a number of her applications for coal mining jobs because of her gender. After investigating the charge, the agency determined there was reasonable cause to believe Mach Mining had discriminated against a class of female job applicants at its mine near Johnston City, Illinois. In late 2010, the EEOC notified the company of its intention to begin informal conciliation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 directs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to try to negotiate an end to an employer’s unlawful employment practices before suing for a judicial remedy. In September 2011, the EEOC told Mach Mining that it had determined the conciliation process had been unsuccessful and that further efforts would be futile. The EEOC filed its complaint in the district court two weeks later. Mach Mining’s answer asserted several affirmative defenses, including the allegation that the suit should be dismissed because the EEOC failed to conciliate in good faith. The district court held that judicial review of conciliation is appropriate in the form of an affirmative defense. The Seventh Circuit reversed, noting that language of the statute, the lack of a meaningful standard for courts to apply, and the overall statutory scheme convinced the court that an alleged failure to conciliate was not an affirmative defense to the merits of a discrimination suit.

Issue: The question before the Court is whether and to what extent a court may enforce the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's mandatory duty to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit.

Holding: TBD
Post a Comment