E.E.O.C. v. A.E. Staley Mfg. Co., 82-1655

Decision Date01 July 1983
Docket NumberNo. 82-1655,82-1655
Citation711 F.2d 780
Parties32 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 279, 32 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 33,718 EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Petitioner-Appellee, v. A.E. STALEY MANUFACTURING CO., Respondent-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

C.R. Gangemi, Jr., Chicago, Ill., for respondent-appellant.

Kenneth J. Burchfiel, Asst. Gen. Counsel, E.E.O.C., Washington, D.C., for petitioner-appellee.

Before CUMMINGS, Chief Judge, BAUER, Circuit Judge, and GRANT, Senior District Judge. *

GRANT, Senior District Judge.

Respondent-Appellant, A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company, appeals from a district court order enforcing an administrative subpoena issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (hereinafter "EEOC") pursuant to § 710 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company (hereinafter "Staley") raises three issues for our consideration:

I. Whether the EEOC's charge is invalid as failing to meet the statutory requirements of § 706(b) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b));

II. Whether the administrative subpoena is unconscionably burdensome;

III. Whether Staley is entitled to a hearing on the issues before the subpoena is enforced?


On October 6, 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed its charge that Staley and Local 837, Allied Industrial Workers of America, had unlawfully discriminated against women and blacks because of their sex and/or race in violation of §§ 703 and 707 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (hereinafter "the Act"). The charge specified six discriminatory practices of Staley and Local 837. 1

The EEOC served Staley with the charge and with it a request for information. Staley countered with a demand for a detailed account of the factual basis underlying the Commissioner's charge. On February 17, 1981, following Staley's failure to supply the requested information, the EEOC issued a subpoena requesting information concerning employment and personnel practices of Staley covering the period January 1, 1978 to February 17, 1981. On February 20, 1981, Staley petitioned the Chicago District Director of the EEOC to revoke or modify the subpoena, but these objections were rejected by the District Director. Staley then appealed the denial to the full Commission. In August 1981, the Commission upheld the District Director's denial of Staley's petition to revoke or modify the subpoena and ordered Staley to comply with the subpoena by September 9, 1981. On December 28, 1981, following Staley's continued refusal to comply with the subpoena, the EEOC filed this action. The district court issued an ex parte order granting the application on December 30, 1981.

On April 5, 1982, the district court ordered the enforcement of the administrative subpoena, holding that the Commissioner's charge satisfied the statutory requirements of § 706(b) because it alleged the time, place and circumstances of the Staley moved for reconsideration of the district court order arguing that, inasmuch as its personnel decisions were made pursuant to a bona fide seniority system, it was immune to attack under Title VII pursuant to the Supreme Court's recent decision in American Tobacco Co. v. Patterson, 456 U.S. 63, 102 S.Ct. 1534, 71 L.Ed.2d 748 (1982). Staley further argued that the date which the EEOC inserted in the charge as the date of the discrimination was invalid because it was a mere pro forma insertion of the effective date of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After a hearing on the motion for reconsideration, the court found that American Tobacco was not applicable to the present case. The court accepted the testimony of the EEOC attorney that the effective date of the Act had not been inserted in a pro forma fashion, but was rather based upon information available to the EEOC. The district court refused to stay its order enforcing the subpoena and Staley filed a timely appeal to this Court.

                alleged unlawful employment practices. 2  The court specifically rejected Staley's argument that the charge must allege reasonable cause, finding that all the statute requires is that the charge be made under oath.   The court found that the information which the EEOC requested was material and relevant.   Furthermore, the court rejected Staley's contention that the subpoena was burdensome because Staley had failed to show the subpoena would interfere with the normal operation of its business

We note initially that an administrative subpoena will be enforced where: (1) the investigation is within the agency's authority, (2) the subpoena is not too indefinite, and (3) the information requested is reasonably relevant. EEOC v. Bay Shipbuilding Corp., 668 F.2d 304, 310 (7th Cir.1981); EEOC v. University of Pittsburgh, 643 F.2d 983, 985-86 (3rd Cir.1981); EEOC v. University of New Mexico, 504 F.2d 1296, 1302 (10th Cir.1974); United States v. Morton Salt Co., 338 U.S. 632, 652, 70 S.Ct. 357, 368, 94 L.Ed. 401 (1950). Compare CAB v. United Air Lines, Inc., 542 F.2d 394, 402 (7th Cir.1976) (information sought amounted to a general warrant; enforcement denied).

This Circuit has long recognized that the EEOC has broad investigatory powers to investigate violations of Title VII. Motorola, Inc. v. McLain, 484 F.2d 1339, 1344, 1345-46 (7th Cir.1973), cert. denied, 416 U.S. 936, 94 S.Ct. 1935, 40 L.Ed.2d 287 (1974); General Employment Enterprises, Inc. v. EEOC, 440 F.2d 783, 784 (7th Cir.1971); See also Parham v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., 433 F.2d 421, 425 (8th Cir.1970); Bowaters Southern Paper Corp. v. EEOC, 428 F.2d 799 (6th Cir.) cert. denied, 400 U.S. 942, 91 S.Ct. 241, 27 L.Ed.2d 246 (1970); Blue Bell Boots, Inc. v. EEOC, 418 F.2d 355 (6th Cir.1969). In terms of relevancy, it is sufficient that "... the material subpoenaed touches a matter under investigation ... even though the material may not be considered 'evidence' as the term is employed in the courtroom." Motorola, 484 F.2d at 1345 citing N.L.R.B. v. Rohlen, 385 F.2d 52, 57 (7th Cir.1967).

The EEOC need not demonstrate probable cause before it is entitled to information. EEOC v. Bay Shipbuilding Corp., 668 F.2d 304, 312-13 (7th Cir.1981). In many instances, the purpose of the EEOC investigation is to determine whether probable cause does in fact exist. EEOC v. Bay Shipbuilding Corp. supra; Graniteville Co. v. EEOC, 438 F.2d 32, 36 (4th Cir.1971);

General Employment Enterprises, Inc. v. EEOC, 440 F.2d 783, 784 (7th Cir.1971).


Staley argues initially that the Commissioner's charge fails to meet the statutory requirements of § 706(b) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b)), contending that the charge is deficient because it fails to demonstrate that the Commissioner had reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Act had occurred and fails to set forth the facts upon which the charge is based including the dates of the alleged violation. The EEOC responds that the charge meets the statutory requirements of § 706(b) and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering the enforcement of the subpoena.

Our analysis of this issue begins with the statute's language and its legislative history. Congress passed Title VII of the Act to "eliminate discrimination in employment based upon race, color, religion or natural origin." Senate Judiciary Committee Report No. 872 reprinted in 1964 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 2355, 2401. The original Act required the Commissioner to have reasonable cause and to set forth the facts upon which the charge was based:

Sec. 706. (a) Whenever it is charged in writing under oath by a person claiming to be aggrieved, or a written charge has been filed by a member of the Commission where he has reasonable cause to believe a violation of this title has occurred (and such charge sets forth the facts upon which it is based ) that an employer, employment agency, or labor organization has engaged in an unlawful employment practice, the Commission shall furnish such employer, employment agency, or labor organization (hereinafter referred to as the "respondent") with a copy of such charge and shall make an investigation of such charge, provided that such charge shall not be made public by the Commission.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(a) (1970) (emphasis added).

This Circuit considered the statutory requirements of § 706(a) in General Employment Enterprises, Inc. v. EEOC, 440 F.2d 783 (7th Cir.1971). In that case, the EEOC sought access to the personnel records of General Employment Enterprises pursuant to §§ 709 and 710 of the Act. General Employment Enterprises argued that the Commissioner's charge failed to set forth the underlying facts with sufficient specificity to be enforced. The charge by the Commissioner alleged that he had reasonable cause to believe that General Employment Enterprises had violated and was continuing to violate the Act by "discriminatorily failing or refusing to hire Negroes and Jewish people." 440 F.2d at 783.

This Court noted:

Section 706(a) of the Civil Rights Act and Commission regulations (§ 1601.11) require the Commissioner to set forth facts upon which the charge is based. We hold that the Commissioner has satisfied this requirement by alleging a discriminatory refusal to hire based on present and past employment practices. Bowaters Southern Paper Corporation v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 428 F.2d 799 (6th Cir.1970). Since a Commissioner's charge does no more than initiate administrative fact finding and voluntary conciliation, we see no reason to impose the pleading standards applicable under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This is consistent with the broad remedial purposes of the Act which could only be thwarted by sustaining technical defenses of alleged violators.

440 F.2d at 783-84. (emphasis added).

Consistent with the broad, remedial purposes of the Act, other Circuits applied the same liberal...

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