Court Okays EEOC Racial Charges

November 8, 2001 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cannot demand information related to sex discrimination in a race discrimination lawsuit, a federal appeals court has ruled.

In a suit filed against Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Ins, on behalf of L.C. Thomas, the EEOC charged that the company discriminated against Thomas based on his race.

The suit further claimed that Southern Farm practiced discrimination against African Americans in hiring claims representatives and the EEOC had begun looking into possible gender discrimination allegations as well.

Upholding the district court decision to enforce a race-discrimination subpoena, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EEOC could only obtain relevant evidence that relates to unlawful employment practices.

When the EEOC found potential evidence of sex discrimination, it could have filed formal allegations and then demanded information relevant to Southern Farm’s employment of women, the court said.

Gender Discrimination

In the course of the racial discrimination investigation, Southern Farm provided the EEOC with a list of representatives by name, position, and race. The names on the list suggested that the company might also have been discriminating on the basis of gender.

The EEOC requested information from Southern farm on the sex of the company’s employees in various job positions but the company refused to provide it – even under subpoena.

– Camilla Klein