The January 11, 2013, ruling by District Judge Robert M. Dow reverses two prior dismissals of the case, EEOC v. United Parcel Service, Inc., Northern District of Illinois, No. 09-cv-05291.

Judge Dow previously held that the EEOC’s complaint and amended complaint were defective, in part, because they failed to allege adequate factual information. The court changed course unexpectedly.

Acting on his own motion, Judge Dow noted that the EEOC’s amended complaint identified the statutes that UPS allegedly violated; the time-frame in which the alleged violations occurred; the names of two alleged victims; a general description of the class of aggrieved people and the remedies being sought. These allegations, Judge Dow ruled, were sufficient to meet federal class action pleading standards, even without the identities of other class members.

[T]he unique role of the EEOC is such that courts generally have allowed complaints with ‘class’ allegations comparable to those asserted here to move forward,” Judge Dow wrote.

The EEOC’s complaint, filed in August of 2009, alleged that the company’s leave of absence policy for disabled workers violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12117(a), and constituted a failure to provide for reasonable accommodations of employees. The EEOC’s complaint and amended complaint named a total of two workers affected by the policy.

Judge Dow’s ruling technically allows the EEOC to file a second amended complaint. In light of the court’s comments, it is likely that the complaint will pass muster and the case will move forward.

In a press release, the EEOC praised the ruling for the latitude that it gives the agency.,

It confirms that the federal agency can pursue claims of employment discrimination on behalf of persons whose identities may not be known at the outset of the case.”

The news is not good for employers. The ruling will likely embolden the EEOC to threaten litigation or actually sue before investigating the facts.  As Judge Dow noted:

EEOC’s ready admission that it made little if any effort to evaluate the extent to which other individuals may have potential meritorious allegations of disability prior to filing suit continues to give the court some pause.

This concern, however, did not prevent the court from reversing UPS’s previous motions to dismiss.

Please contact Barger & Wolen attorney Peter Felsenfeld if you have any questions about the case or its ramifications.