The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently reversed a trial court’s refusal to enforce an U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) administrative subpoena, finding that “EEOC subpoenas are enforceable so long as they seek information relevant to any of the allegations in a charge, not just those directly affecting the charging party.”  

The trial court had declined to enforce the subpoena on the ground that a “nationwide, companywide search for systemic discrimination in promotions to top positions is too removed” from the charging party’s “one-off” discriminatory demotion claim. 

The Ninth Circuit in a cursory, four-page unpublished decision in EEOC v. VF Jeanswear, No. 17-16786 (9th Cir. May 1, 2019), had no problem, however, in allowing the EEOC to demand extensive information about the company’s management and executive personnel, under the theory that the EEOC should be able to determine if the company discriminates against women in promotions in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). 

The ruling is in line with Ninth Circuit precedent, and other federal courts, which give the EEOC wide latitude in demanding the production of information the agency believes is necessary to discharging its duties.

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