EEOC Not Required to Identify Aggrieved Individual in Title VII Race Discrimination Claim

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On April 7, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") is not required to identify an aggrieved individual in order to pursue a race discrimination claim pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). 

After unsuccessful attempts at a pre-litigation settlement, the EEOC filed a complaint against Rosebud Restaurants, alleging that from November of 2009 to the present, they failed or refused to hire African-Americans in violation of Title VII.  Rosebud filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing the EEOC was required to identify an individual job applicant who was rejected because of his or her race and that no such individual had been named.  Judge Andrea Wood disagreed, finding Rosebud's argument was not supported by the language of the statute. 

Pursuant to Section 706 of Title VII, the EEOC has authority to bring a civil action in its own name. This Section, according to Judge Wood, contains no provision limiting such actions to matters brought on behalf of individuals. Instead, the EEOC is authorized to prevent any person from engaging in an unlawful employment practice, which includes the widespread failure to hire an individual based on race. Accordingly, Judge Wood denied Rosebud's motion to dismiss, allowing the EEOC's allegations of intentional discrimination to move forward even in the absence of the identification of an aggrieved individual.

The EEOC already is using this Rosebud decision to garner support for its Strategic Enforcement Plan, adopted in November of 2012, which prioritizes combating systemic discrimination in hiring and recruitment on the basis of race.  Hinshaw attorneys will track that issue and the impact of this case.  

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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