U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Court Finds Production of Contact Information Appropriate in Litigation and Refuses to Restrict EEOC Communication with Potential Class Members
CHICAGO – Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has ruled that a major trucking industry employer must provide the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with a list of the names with last known addresses and phone numbers of all African-American employees employed at its Chicago Ridge facility from 2004 until the facility was closed in 2009. The EEOC has alleged that the trucking company, Yellow Transportation/YRC (“Yellow”), engaged in widespread discrimination against its African-American employees by fostering a racially hostile work environment, including the presence of nooses and racist graffiti, and by subjecting African-American employees to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment The EEOC is seeking relief on behalf all affected African-American employees who worked at Yellow’s Chicago Ridge terminal from 2004 until the facility was closed in 2009. EEOC moved to compel Yellow to produce contact information for all African-American employees who worked at the Chicago Ridge terminal from 2004 until the facility was closed. Yellow had argued that the EEOC’s request for the full list was beyond the scope of discovery. The court rejected Yellow’s argument and held that, in the course of the on-going litigation, production of the complete list of all African-American employees who worked at the facility was warranted. The court further found there was no basis to limit the EEOC’s request to the specific job categories held by the charging parties, since there is no reason to believe the alleged conduct was limited to those specific job categories and the EEOC’s complaint did not limit its class allegations to specific job categories.The court also rejected Yellow’s request to restrict the EEOC’s communication with potential class members, finding that the company had provided no basis for restricting the EEOC’s communications with the prospective class for whom it is seeking relief. EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago, John Hendrickson, said, “It’s ironic how some employers are so recalcitrant about identifying those who are most likely to be within the class of individuals who suffered discrimination, and then later try to block relief on the grounds that EEOC delayed identification of the very individuals the employers attempted to conceal. Of course, that’s nonsense and stands reality on its head, so we are pleased whenever courts decline to encourage defendant employers to go down that road.”EEOC’s case is captioned EEOC v. Yellow Transportation Inc. and YRC, Inc., Northern District of Illinois No. 09 C 7693. The decision was entered by the court this Wednesday, July 21, 2010.In addition to Hendrickson, EEOC is represented by Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorneys Richard Mrizek, Ethan Cohen, and Deborah Hamilton. The EEOC Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further informationabout the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.