March 07, 2012

On February 22, 2012, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of all class member claims that had survived the summary judgment motions filed by Jenner & Block for firm client CRST Van Expedited, Inc. (CRST) in a sweeping sexual harassment class action brought against CRST by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). See Nos. 09-3764, 09-3765,10-1682, 2012 WL 555510 (8th Cir. Feb. 22, 2012). The Court of Appeals held that the EEOC had failed to satisfy the statutory obligations Congress imposed on it before it could file suit against an employer: to conduct a reasonable investigation of a charge of discrimination or harassment; to make a determination whether the charge was supported by reasonable cause; and to attempt in good faith to resolve the charge through conciliation. Instead, EEOC filed suit and used the court’s discovery process to locate potential class members. The ruling enforces Congress’s goal of not embroiling employers in costly and disruptive litigation unless the EEOC has determined that its claims are supported by good cause and cannot be settled.