Employment Law Report

When EEOC Investigators Ask, They Are Serious

By Kim Koratsky

A federal magistrate ordered frozen food delivery company, Schwan’s Home Service,  to turn over to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) personal information about persons employed as general managers at Schwan’s facilities nationwide.   This order comes from a subpoena enforcement proceeding before Magistrate Judge Janie Mayeron in the U. S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and stems from an EEOC investigation of a sex discrimination charge.  The EEOC made several requests for Schwan’s to provide the requested information, but Schwan’s accused the EEOC of pursuing a “fishing expedition.”   The EEOC was investigating discrimination in Schwan’s General Manager Development Program and maintained that it needed the information as part of its investigation into systemic discrimination.  The EEOC’s Chicago office director, John Rowe, was later quoted as saying, “make no mistake about it, the EEOC will take recalcitrant employers to court and will enforce its subpoenas.”    EEOC Regional Attorney, John Hendrickson added, “employers who try to thwart an EEOC investigation by resisting a subpoena do themselves no favors as they will likely end up on the losing side in court, and will make the investigation public.  Ongoing EEOC investigations are not matters of the public record unless and until we are forced to go to court to enforce a subpoena.”