A recent ruling to hit the U.S. District Court in Maryland is a doozie. You might even find it somewhat entertaining as court cases go. It’s comes as part of the 2009-initiated case of EEOC v. Freeman in which the EEOC sued a corporate events planning company for discrimination related to the company’s use of criminal records and credit histories. The Defendant has since requested deposition of EEOC officials concerning the agency’s own use of criminal reports and credit histories.
According to the Memorandum Opinion, the Defendant identified topics to be discussed during the deposition, including the EEOC’s policies on the legal standard applicable to challenging an employer’s use of credit history or arrest records in hiring; the EEOC’s policies on and justifications for considering arrest and credit records in hiring; and certain EEOC adjudicative procedures used during the “credentialing and suitability decision making process.”
Of course, the EEOC doesn’t want to have the tables turned on them so the Commission immediately sought Protective Order preventing the deposition on the following basis:
- The EEOC contended that a protective order is appropriate because the deposition would not seek information relevant to any claim or defense.
- It argued that the deposition would not disclose any relevant information because the EEOC does not choose or conduct all of its hiring practices.
- The EEOC argued that the Court should issue a protective order because the deposition would be cumulative, burdensome, and duplicative of publicly available information.
The Commission claims that its use of credit and criminal histories is not relevant because a business necessity defense “is employer and job-specific,” and Defendant is the employer in question.
The Maryland Court didn’t buy the arguments and denied the Commission’s request for Protective Order. It stated that if the EEOC uses hiring practices similar to those used by Defendant, “this fact may show the appropriateness of those practices, particularly because Plaintiff is the agency fighting unfair hiring practices.”
In other words, if you’re going to sue someone for unfair hiring practices, you might want to make sure your hiring practices are fair.
It’s sounding like the Court wants the EEOC to practice what it preaches.