The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") sues Chicago
Miniature Lamp Works ("CMLW") under Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 ("Title VII," 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.), claiming
that CMLW has failed (a) to recruit, hire and promote Blacks and
(b) to promote Hispanics. CMLW has moved for summary judgment.
For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order its
motion is denied.
On March 9, 1978 Ed Randolph ("Randolph") filed a charge with
EEOC alleging that CMLW failed to promote him because of his race
(Randolph is a Black). EEOC's November 9, 1978 determination
letter found reasonable cause to believe that Randolph's charge
was true and additionally:
that Respondent is discriminating against Blacks as a
class in hiring and recruiting, and Blacks and
Hispanics in promotions. Our finding is based on
statistical data pertaining to population, the
Respondent's work force, and movement within the
Respondent's work force.
EEOC then filed this action against CMLW alleging such
discrimination against Blacks and Hispanics generally.*fn1
For the most part Title VII actions are limited in scope to
charges stated in the administrative complaint filed with EEOC.
Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mutual Hospital Insurance, Inc.,
538 F.2d 164, 167 (7th Cir. 1976). But entirely consistently with Jenkins
a host of other courts have espoused the principle, as stated in
EEOC v. General Electric Co., 532 F.2d 359, 366 (4th Cir. 1976)
(emphasis in original), that EEOC can bring a federal civil
any discrimination stated in the charge itself or
developed in the course of a reasonable investigation
of that charge. . . .
CMLW's attack is premised on the assertion that EEOC's
investigation did not actually reveal such widespread
discrimination, so that EEOC lacked any basis for finding
class-wide discrimination. It argues from that premise that
EEOC's Complaint must be limited to an allegation of individual
discrimination against Randolph.
CMLW's motion asks this Court to look behind EEOC's express
finding of broad-scale discrimination to decide whether EEOC had
any reasonable basis for making that finding. Such an endeavor is
both conceptually and procedurally unsound.
That line of inquiry would deflect the efforts of both the
Court and the parties from the main purpose of this litigation:
to determine whether CMLW has actually violated Title VII.
Acceptance of CMLW's theory would entitle every Title VII
defendant to litigate as a preliminary matter whether EEOC had a
reasonable basis for its determination. There is after all no
logical distinction between cases where suit is brought on the
original charge and cases where new charges were discovered in
the investigation. Any defendant could just as well challenge
whether EEOC had a reasonable basis for a determination of
reasonable cause for an individual complaint. CMLW's position
would effectively make every Title VII suit a two-step action:
First the parties would litigate the question whether EEOC had a
reasonable basis for its initial finding, and only then would the
parties proceed to litigate the merits of the action.
Title VII's statutory scheme clearly indicates that no such
procedure was intended by Congress. EEOC's determination of
reasonable cause and the nature of its investigation are
completely discretionary. EEOC is not required to create a record
or hold any sort of hearing. It is permitted to gather any
evidence it deems appropriate. Suppose indeed that this Court
were to deny CMLW's motion for summary judgment on the ground
that a factual issue existed as to whether EEOC had actually
found widespread discrimination in its investigation. Must this
Court then conduct a hearing to determine what had turned up in
EEOC's inquiry? Professor Nathanson has called such a procedure
"probing the mind of the administrator" in his Probing the Mind
of the Administrator: Hearing Variations and Standards of
Judicial Review Under the Administrative Procedure Act and Other
Statutes, 75 Colum.L.R. 721 (1975). It must be remembered that
the statute (understandably) contains no hint of what standard of
review should be used in that mind-reading process.
Title VII defendants receive a de novo trial on charges of
discrimination. Were EEOC to file a complaint of widespread
discrimination when its investigation in fact had failed to
support its finding, defendants would not be prejudiced as to the
final outcome of the litigation. They would of course have been
subjected to an unnecessary lawsuit because EEOC had failed
properly to investigate the situation. But that potential harm*fn2
must be weighed against the undesirability of turning every
properly-filed EEOC action into a two-fold action. As between
those alternatives, the Court finds no contest.
Only two courts appear to have discussed this point directly.
Each barred a defendant from litigating the question whether EEOC
had a proper basis for a determination. EEOC v. E.I. DuPont de
Nemours & Co., 373 F. Supp. 1321, 1338 (D.Del. 1974); EEOC v.
General Electric Co., 532 F.2d 359, 370 n. 31 (4th Cir. ...