The National Law Journal reports that Texas Roadhouse has sued the EEOC, demanding background on the agency’s prior age discrimination suit against it. The restaurant chain is suing under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking the genesis of the lawsuit, which it claims the EEOC filed without first receiving a charge of discrimination.
According the the NLJ, “By law, the EEOC doesn’t have to wait for someone to come forward with a discrimination complaint. It can act on its own by filing a commissioner’s charge, or initiating a directed investigation…. In part, the agency relies on statistical evidence culled from reports that all employers with 100 or more workers (and federal contractors with 50 or more) must file annually with the agency, showing the sex and race or ethnicity of workers by job category.”
According to the FOIA complaint, “The very agency that has attempted to enforce the law against discrimination—by launching an unprovoked attack against Texas Roadhouse, then waging a media campaign declaring Texas Roadhouse guilty before a single day, indeed, a single minute, in court—is defying the law applicable to it. This cannot stand in a society governed by fundamental principles of fairness, due process, and the rule of law.”
Rhetoric aside, I question whether scouring EEO-1s for employers who appear, based on demographics alone, to discriminate, is the best use of the EEOC’s limited resources. The EEOC can do a lot of good to further civil rights opinion this country (see EEOC makes history by filing its first ever transgender-discrimination lawsuits). Cases such as this one, however, cause me to question the EEOC’s motives, and cause employers to lose confidence in what should be a worthy agency.