EEOC Ordered to Pay Fees for Company that Prevailed in Lawsuit

April 21, 2011 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been sanctioned by a federal court in Michigan and ordered to pay more than $750,000 in attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees, and court costs to Peoplemark.

According to a story on the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Web site, after what the court described as “months of tumultuous litigation,” the EEOC was completely unable to prove its case in a discrimination lawsuit it filed against the staffing firm in 2008. In its complaint, the EEOC alleged that Peoplemark violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by adopting a blanket policy of refusing to hire anyone with a criminal record, which it said had a “disparate impact” on certain minority groups, including African-Americans and Hispanics.  

The news report said a court found the agency could not prove that Peoplemark had a policy of refusing to hire anyone who had a criminal record; could not identify anyone who had suffered discrimination as a result of the alleged hiring policies; and was unable to produce statistical or expert evidence to back up its claims of discrimination.  

Peoplemark subsequently filed a motion for sanctions, asking that the court award it more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees and court costs. In that motion, Peoplemark argued that “due to the EEOC’s unreasonable and meritless litigation strategy, in which it deliberately caused Peoplemark unnecessary delay and expense in a very time-consuming and complex case, the agency should be required to compensate Peoplemark for all fees and expenses incurred,” according to the news story. The court agreed, finding that “[t]his is one of those cases where the complaint turned out to be without foundation from the beginning.”  

The court ordered the EEOC to pay Peoplemark $751,942.48.