Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pattern and practice cases: EEOC renews focus on systemic discrimination
Ogletree Deakins
Steven W. Moore and Jennifer L. Gokenbach
November 9 2010

With an increased budget and additional investigative resources, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced its renewed focus on combating systemic discrimination and its intent to pursue a greater number of large-scale enforcement actions through FY 2012 where it seeks relief for numerous applicants or employees. Known as a “pattern and practice” case, this type of litigation poses the greatest exposure and risk to employers through challenges to policies and practices in the workplace that allegedly have a discriminatory impact on a protected class and relies heavily on statistical evidence. In this past year, there has been a spate of EEOC enforcement actions seeking relief on a class basis. Now more than ever, it is imperative for employers to be cognizant of these large-scale cases, to understand the nuances involved in the EEOC’s handling and prosecution of such cases, and to be prepared to timely challenge any attempts by the EEOC to overreach.

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