Labor Law -- 2015

Case New Holland, Inc. v. EEOC   (D.D.C.)

EEOC's authority to send blast emails to company employees

On June 5, 2013, without any finding of discrimination or advance notice to Case New Holland (CNH), the EEOC delivered an email blast to the business email inboxes of 1,169 CNH employees. The blast email advised the employees, well over a hundred of whom were managers, that the EEOC was investigating CNH for age discrimination. It then directed the employees to provide to the government, through a secure Internet site, evidence of discrimination and personal contact information. The EEOC actually admitted, in later correspondence, that its blast email was trolling for class action plaintiffs to sue CNH.

CNH asked for a declaratory judgment finding that the EEOC had overreached its authority under its governing statutes and the United States Constitution. There were five counts in the complaint. The First Count asserted an Administrative Procedure Act (APA) violation because no authorizing rule or regulation permitted the blast email. The Second Count asserted that the blast email was neither “necessary [n]or appropriate,” and thus exceeded the permissible scope of the EEOC’s authority under Section 7(a) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 626(a). The Third Count alleged that the EEOC failed to comply with its own Compliance Manual’s provisions on the conduct of investigations, again in violation of the APA. The Fourth Count asserted an unreasonable invasion of the CNH computer network and of the privacy interests of CNH employees, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Lastly, the Fifth Count asserted that the EEOC trespassed on the CNH computer network and, by so doing, effected a taking without compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

The EEOC moved to dismiss the complaint, and on Nov 14, 2013, the NAM filed an amicus brief opposing the motion. Our brief argued that the extensive CNH employee time and property used to complete the EEOC evaluations and interviews constitutes a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause.

The EEOC took the highly unusual step of filing a reply brief to the NAM amicus brief calling it "unprecedented" and asked for an extension to file their full reply. The substance of the full EEOC reply demonstrates the significance of the NAM argument. On 1/6/14, we responded (see brief below).

On 9/24/14, the judge dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction based on standing. CNH amended its complaint and filed an appeal, and the judge reinstated the case. CNH voluntarily dismissed the case on 10/28/2015.

Related Documents:
NAM reply brief  (January 6, 2014)
NAM amicus brief  (November 14, 2013)


© 2019 National Association of Manufacturers