Ninth Circuit reaffirms broad view of enforceability of EEOC subpoenas

The Ninth Circuit reaffirmed its broad approach to the enforceability of EEOC subpoenas in a case where the employer had already produced sufficient information to analyze the company’s practice at-issue. Although the company pointed out the EEOC did not require the information to perform the desired statistical analysis of its “physical capability strength test,” the EEOC nonetheless insisted on obtaining “‘pedigree information’ (name, Social Security number, last known address, and telephone number) for employees or prospective employees who took the test” (parenthetical in original). Even the trial court agreed with the company holding that the information was not necessary and quashing the subpoena accordingly. The Ninth Circuit nonetheless reversed, explaining the test was not necessity but relevance.

The EEOC’s need for the evidence—or lack thereof—simply does not factor into the relevance determination.

The case is a reminder to employers that the courts can take a wide-eyed approach to EEOC subpoenas.

Source: EEOC v. McLane Co., Inc., — F.3d —, case no. 13-15126 (9th Cir. 5/24/17)

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