Cross-posted at WLF’s Forbes.com contributor site
A federal district court recently affirmed that there are temporal limits on the government’s snare, and dismissed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit initiated almost seven years after the employee brought a complaint. EEOC v. Propak Logistics, No. 1:09-CV-311 (W.D.N.C. Aug. 7, 2012). Using the equitable defense of laches, the court decided that the EEOC’s handling of the investigation presented both unreasonable delay and prejudice to the defendant. Though the case was initiated seven years after the complainant alleged violations of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, the decision came almost ten years after the complaint was filed. Meanwhile, the DOJ had initiated and completed a separate investigation in less than one year, resulting in the department’s dismissal of all claims.
The matter originated as a charge brought against Propak in 2003 alleging that the company had refused to hire non-Hispanic persons for non-managerial positions in a North Carolina facility. From that point, until it initiated its lawsuit in 2009, the EEOC alleged it had engaged in continuous activity relating the investigation of the claim. That may have been true, but to this the court countered, “Certainly delay will not be excused merely because the EEOC activity is continuous, if the nature and quality of that activity do not justify the delay,” i.e., paper shuffling is not quality activity. Continue reading “Judge Rules Time is Not on the EEOC’s Side”