US Supreme Court Holds that EEOC Conciliation is Subject to Judicial Review
This morning, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in Mach Mining v. EEOC (# 13-1019). The case hinged upon whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attempt to conciliate claims before filing a lawsuit, and whether the EEOC’s efforts or lack thereof are subject to judicial review. In this case Mach Mining claimed that the EEOC had not adequately fulfilled that conciliation requirement. In a decision written by Justice Kagan, the Court unanimously decided that courts can review conciliation efforts by the EEOC to determine if the EEOC met the statutory requirement of attempting to conciliate before bringing suit. Although Justice Kagan’s opinion tries to closely limit the review, pointing out that the EEOC gave notice of the violation and an opportunity for voluntary compliance, the decision may have unintended consequences. It is likely that in any case in which the EEOC found cause, victims of civil rights violations will be fighting a motion that the EEOC did not make good-faith conciliation efforts. As a practical matter, it will give hostile judges an excuse to throw out cases for alleged failures by the EEOC during the administrative process. Granted Justice Kagan did a very good job of setting forth an objective standard for the EEOC to meet, which many will rightfully claim is much better than no standard at all, it would have been best for the EEOC to simply have the discretion to best determine whether and to what extent conciliation efforts would bear fruit. For a copy of the decision, click HERE.