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Mach Mining v. EEOC had its day before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. The issue at hand is a complicated one, but one that could affect employers across the country.

Here is a very quick summary. In 2011 the EEOC sued the Illinois mining company for not hiring any female workers even though plenty of qualified women applied for jobs. According to the company, the EEOC sued before making a good-faith effort to reach a settlement.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires the Commission to use “conference, conciliation and persuasion” to eliminate any allegedly unlawful employment practices before filing a lawsuit. In fact, the EEOC couldn’t even sue an employer until changes to the law in1972. Since then many in the business community have accused the Commission of pursuing a “sue first negotiate later” strategy. The $100 million dollars the EEOC has collected from more than 50 companies since 2011 might support their theory.

The Mach Mining case bounced around the lower courts for a few years with the company arguing for judicial review of the Commission’s conciliation efforts. In the final ruling before appearing before the Supreme Court, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago basically said that they should stay out of the confidential settlement talks. Now the ultimate decision is up to the Supreme Court. The government argues that is if the EEOC’s work is subject to review, people will be less forthcoming in interviews and less likely to work towards an agreement. Mach Mining’s attorneys say they believe confidentiality can be preserved during the conciliation process.

Court watchers report the Justices were all very interested in this issue and asked dozens of questions. A decision isn’t expected for another month or two.


The Most Intriguing EEOC Decisions of 2014

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing EEOC cases and issues on this blog over the year. Recently I stumbled on a really great wrap-up of the most intriguing EEOC cases of the year. Workplace Class Action Blog produced it, and here’s a link if you would like to take a look:

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