Retailers Welcome SCOTUS Review of Mach Mining v. EEOC

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High Court to rule on whether courts have authority to supervise EEOC’s fulfillment of its legally binding pre-trial obligations

Arlington , VA - 6/30/2014

The Retail Litigation Center (RLC) issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in Mach Mining v. EEOC. The case stems from a Title VII discrimination suit brought by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against employer, Mach Mining, regarding its hiring practices.

"Retailers welcome the Supreme Court's review of this important case," said RLC President Deborah White. "Judicial review is essential to ensure that conciliation is meaningful. The Seventh Circuit's claim that removing the EEOC's pre-suit efforts from judicial oversight would promote conciliation fails to recognize real world incentives of employers to settle litigation before suit. Aside from the illogical argument advanced by the Seventh Circuit, 40 years of precedent and the statute itself clearly place the EEOC conciliatory duty within the scope of judicial review."


In the original lawsuit, the employer asserted that the EEOC had not fulfilled its legal obligation to seek compliance prior to initiating litigation. The EEOC responded that courts are not entitled to look at whether the agency fulfilled its pre-trial statutory obligations. The position essentially places the EEOC above the law. 

The RLC, joined by several major business associations, filed an amicus brief in March, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant certiorari and take the case as a vehicle in which to remind the lower courts of the importance of judicial review of federal agency actions, such as the EEOC's statutory duty to conciliate in a meaningful fashion at issue in this case.
Now that the Supreme Court has granted certioari, the Court will consider the merits of the case next term. The RLC plans to file an amicus brief at that stage of the litigation as well. The RLC previously filed a brief on this case with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

From the amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court in support of certioari:

"Title VII's enforcement history illustrates that the EEOC too often bypasses meaningful conciliation, preferring to sue first and negotiate later.  But Congress understood that the best chance to settle a dispute is before litigation and therefore directed the EEOC to conciliate before filing a suit.  That is when employers are most eager to settle, to avoid the stigma of being labeled publicly as violators of civil rights."

"The Seventh Circuit's decision is also legally unsupportable. First, it lacks any limiting principle, offering blind trust in an executive agency and relying on the faint hope of congressional oversight.…Second, the decision's conclusion is refuted by legislative history, as Congress rejected a bill that expressly made conciliation nonreviewable…Third, the court's insistence that no judicially manageable standard is possible ignores the forty-year body of jurisprudence."

The complete brief can be found HERE. The brief was drafted by Jones Day attorneys Eric S. Dreiband, Shay Dvoretzky and Yaakov M. Roth.

The Retail Litigation Center is a public policy organization that identifies and engages in legal proceedings which affect the retail industry.  The RLC, whose members include some of the country's largest retailers, was formed to provide courts with retail industry perspectives on significant legal issues, and highlight the potential industry-wide consequences of legal principles that may be determined in pending cases.

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