About a month ago, we posted on a case in which a court imposed an attorneys’ fees award against the EEOC for roughly $4.7 million. (Click here to view post.) Well, here we go again. Just this week, a Federal judge in New York entered a judgment against the EEOC and in favor of Bloomberg L.P. The court’s order specifically invites Bloomberg L.P. to apply for recovery of its attorneys’ fees, which will undoubtedly be very substantial, given that the EEOC brought a combination of class and individual claims against the employer in what can only be described as shock and awe litigation.
The case is particularly noteworthy because it did not turn on whether discrimination did or did not occur. Instead, the case turned on the EEOC’s abject failure to engage in good faith in the mandatory conciliation process Congress demanded when it enacted and amended Title VII. The court noted that the EEOC failed or refused to identify potential individual claimants during its conciliation with the employer, choosing instead to “level broad accusations of class-wide” discrimination, presenting a “moving target of prospective plaintiffs” without disclosing them during pre-suit, mandatory conciliation. Unfortunately, such practices are common with the EEOC in our experience. Hopefully a substantial fee award in this case will convince the EEOC to engage in transparent, meaningful conciliation instead of hide-the-ball, no-holds-barred, faux class litigation.