In yet another example of how the federal courts typically side with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when a company refuses to voluntarily turn over information demanded by the agency that the employer claims is not relevant to the agency’s charge investigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has upheld enforcement of an agency subpoena seeking extensive data well beyond the parameters of the underlying charges.

The ruling by the appeals court in EEOC v. Centura Health, No. 18-1188 (10th Cir. 2019), is especially significant because the Tenth Circuit has been one of the few federal courts in the past to decline to enforce an overly broad EEOC subpoena.

In this case, the EEOC was investigating eleven charges filed by former Centura employees in six of the company’s Colorado locations alleging failure to accommodate and disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As part of its investigation, the agency sought extensive information about Centura employees spread across the state of Colorado who had requested some form of medical leave or disability-related workplace accommodation over a three-year period.

After the company declined to provide it, the EEOC issued an administrative subpoena demanding the information. The agency then brought an action in federal court to enforce the subpoena. Centura defended on the basis that the information being demanded lacked relevance to the charges under investigation. The Tenth Circuit found, however, that because it “might cast light” on the charging parties’ allegations, the EEOC was well within its authority to demand its production.

A copy of the Centura Health decision is available here.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.