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Judge orders EEOC to pay $4.7M in legal fees in Jenner & Block case

Posted Aug 6, 2013 3:31 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In the latest chapter of a litigation saga that has proven expensive for the feds, Jenner & Block has won what could be a record $4.7 million in attorney fees and costs from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

At issue was an employment discrimination case brought by the EEOC against the law firm's client, CRST Van Expedited, in 2007. It alleged that female workers had been sexually harassed by male employees and trainers. The company settled one claim for $50,000, but more than 250 other claims were dismissed

A federal judge in Iowa said the EEOC did not exhaust administrative remedies and properly investigate before filing a lawsuit claiming that the company tolerated harassment, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade ordered the EEOC to cover the company's $4.7 million in attorney fees and costs as a sanction for making a "pattern-or-practice" claim and 153 individual claims that were "unreasonable or groundless." The total includes both trial-level and appellate work by multiple law firms.

A spokeswoman says the EEOC is "deeply disappointed" by the ruling and may appeal, the Associated Press reports.

A post at Seyfarth Shaw's Workplace Class Action Blog links to a copy of the Aug. 1 opinion (PDF).

It says 98 employment discrimination claims against the company were dismissed as a discovery sanction, and three were withdrawn by the EEOC.

A Jenner & Block press release provides further details.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "EEOC Hit with $4.5M Legal Fee Award in Losing ‘Pattern & Practice’ Case, Plans Appeal"

ABAJournal.com: "EEOC Class Action Backfires; 8th Circuit Sides with Defendant Facing ‘Moving Target’ of Discovery"

AmLaw Litigation Daily (sub. req.): "Jenner Scores Record Fees From EEOC In Harassment Case"

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