The Obama Administration has been making companies pay for discrimination claims, but the courts could derail that.
In 2011 the Obama Administration started presenting legislation to crackdown on companies that were facing discrimination claims against women and minorities. However the Supreme Court could put the brakes on the Obama Administration’s lofty goals.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether an employer can defend discrimination lawsuits based on if government lawyers attempted to settle before going to court. Many private companies have complained in the past few months over the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) litigation system. The current system works in that the EEOC turns individual complaints against companies and creates class-action lawsuits from them.
Since the EEOC litigation push in 2011 more than $100 million in legal judgments and settlements were paid out from more than 50 companies over discriminatory practices. This included the very public case of Verizon Inc. in which the company had to pay $20 million for unfairly firing disabled workers due to days missing work.
Many companies have aired grievances over the litigation practices of the EEOC accusing them of bullying tactics with “take-it-or-leave-it” offers without talk of meaningful settlements. Corporations are arguing that they would rather negotiate minimal settlements outside of the courts with the promise of fixing problems in the future. However many minority and social justice advocates disagree. They argue these class-action lawsuits have brought discrimination cases into the public light which would otherwise have been swept under the rug or worse, ignored entirely.
The Obama Administration has supported the litigation brought on by the EEOC in the past, but if the Supreme Court rules that government agencies have not been fair to companies then how the government handles discrimination cases would fundamentally change in the future.
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