Employment Law Report

EEOC Hit With Big Fees In Rare Turnabout

By Kim Koratsky

A federal judge in Iowa has ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to pay more than $4.5 Million in attorneys’ fees and expenses to CRST Van Expedited, a Cedar Rapids trucking company.  While it is somewhat unusual for a defendant to be awarded fees against a plaintiff, it is quite rare that fees are awarded against the EEOC.  The fee award was made after the dismissal of the EEOC’s sexual harassment lawsuit against CRST.  The EEOC had alleged a pattern and practice of sexual harassment and hostile work environment that effected some 270 female drivers.  The court ultimately dismissed all of the EEOC’s claims, opening the door to CRST’s request for attorneys’ fees.  The fee request was granted based on, among other things, the court’s previous holding when dismissing the last 67 of the claims, that the EEOC had “wholly abandoned its statutory duties” by not conducting any investigation into their allegations.

The fee award covers more than 18,000 hours logged by the primary defense firm, and more than 2,500 hours from the secondary firm.  The total request was for more than $7 Million in attorneys’ fees.  The court had already awarded nearly $93,000 in costs.  The EEOC indicated it would appeal the fee award.