Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Empire EEOC Strikes Back Against the Rebel State of Texas

On November 5, 2013, the State of Texas filed suit against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) challenging the EEOC's April 2012 Enforcement Guidance titled, "Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." See State of Texas v. EEOC, Case No. 5:13-CV-00255-C, In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division. 

The Plaintiff State of Texas took issue with the EEOC's position regarding the hiring of convicted felons, and asked the Court for the following relief: (1) a declaratory judgment and injunction that the State's "No-Felons Policies" do not constitute "unlawful employment practices"; (2) a declaratory judgment that the EEOC's Guidance is unlawful (and not just the portion related to state laws) because the EEOC exceeded its statutory authority; and (3) a declaratory judgment that the EEOC's interpretation of Title VII cannot abrogate State sovereign immunity

On January 27, 2014, the EEOC struck back by filing a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit. Therein, the EEOC makes three arguments. First, it contends the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the EEOC's Guidance lacks legal effect. This argument is interesting for private employers because the EEOC readily concedes the Guidance reflects only the EEOC's view of the law, and is not the law itself. Second, it contends Texas has not suffered a concrete injury from the Guidance, or that such injury is imminent or impending. Third, the EEOC contends none of the claims is ripe for a decision by the Court.

The State of Texas will have the opportunity to file a response, to which the EEOC can file a reply. Thereafter, the matter will be decided by the Court. Stay tuned to see whether the rebel State of Texas or the Empire EEOC wins this battle.