Shook, Hardy & Bacon Partner and National Employment Litigation & Policy Practice leader Bill Martucci discusses the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) recent win against Bass Pro Outdoor World LLC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in a June 20 Corporate Counsel article, “Bass Pro, Fighting Discrimination Claims, Loses Challenge to EEOC in Fifth Circuit.”
The win allows the case to proceed against Bass Pro, which the EEOC accused of using discriminatory hiring practices; Bass Pro denies the discrimination allegations. According to the article author, Bass Pro argued that the EEOC was “barred from pursing a ‘pattern or practice’ case using §706 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. A trial judge initially agreed but later reversed course. The Fifth Circuit upheld the ability of the agency to bring such claims under §706, a provision rarely used to look at broad companywide practices.”
Martucci said, “This truly is a major new day, a new era for EEOC authority to pursue major pattern-or-practices cases. And it’s breathtaking because of the fact that this is the Fifth Circuit, often thought of as being moderate in its approach to very sensitive employment issues and favorable to employers who raise issues concerning very pragmatic aspects of the impacts of given rulings.”
This ruling has the potential to create new procedural and financial burdens for companies charged with pattern-or-practice discrimination claims by the Commission.