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U.S. EEOC v. AFT

February 25, 1991

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS, LOCAL #571 and ELMHURST COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 205, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 On December 7, 1990, this court entered an order granting attorneys' fees against plaintiff United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in favor of defendant Elmhurst Community Unit School District No. 205 ("District 205"). Before the court is EEOC's motion to reconsider that order and District 205's motion to amend the order to increase the amount of fees awarded. For the reasons stated below, the EEOC's motion to reconsider is denied and District 205's motion is granted.

 FACTS

 On June 12, 1987, the EEOC filed a complaint against the American Federation of Teachers Local 571 ("Local 571") and District 205, alleging that Local 571 had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.) by participating in a collective bargaining agreement which discriminated against employees who were disabled because of pregnancy. In its complaint, the EEOC did not allege any claims against, or request any relief from, District 205. Rather, the EEOC named District 205 as a defendant, on the grounds that the school district was a "necessary party" under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19. *fn1"

 On October 5, 1987, District 205 filed a motion to dismiss in which it argued that Title VII, which expressly prohibits EEOC proceedings against governmental entities, provided a procedural bar to the EEOC's action against it. (The parties agree that District 205 is a local governmental entity.) In an order dated November 30, 1988, the court granted District 205's motion to dismiss. The November 30, 1988 order also granted Local 571's motion for summary judgment. The EEOC filed a motion to reconsider the court's November 30 order, which was subsequently denied in an order dated June 15, 1989.

 On August 11, 1989, the EEOC appealed this court's November 30, 1988 order and its June 15, 1989 order denying reconsideration. Ultimately, the appeal was voluntarily dismissed after the EEOC entered into a consent decree with Local 571, thus resolving the substantive issues in the litigation.

 On April 30, 1990, District 205 filed a motion for attorneys' fees under Title VII and Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, and an affidavit in support thereof. *fn2" This affidavit documented $ 10,072.50 in fees incurred by District 205 between July 1987 and February 1990. In December, after full briefing on its motion, District 205 filed a Supplemental Affidavit, documenting $ 5,171.50 in fees incurred between February 7, 1990 and September 18, 1990. On December 7, 1990, the court entered an order granting District 205's motion for fees in the amount of $ 4,137.00.

 DISCUSSION

 Section 706(k) of Title VII states:

 
(k) In any action or proceeding under this subchapter the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the Commission or the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs, and the Commission and the United States shall be liable for costs the same as a private person.

 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k). Although this statutory language makes no distinction between prevailing plaintiffs and prevailing defendants, the Supreme Court has established two separate standards. Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434 U.S. 412, 54 L. Ed. 2d 648, 98 S. Ct. 694 (1978). Whereas a prevailing plaintiff in a Title VII action "ordinarily is to be awarded attorney's fees in all but special circumstances," Christiansburg, 434 U.S. at 417, a prevailing defendant may only obtain fees if the district court finds "that the plaintiff's action was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation, even though not brought in subjective bad faith." Christiansburg, 434 U.S. at 421, 98 S. Ct. at 700. As a prevailing defendant, District 205 is held to the higher standard set forth in Christiansburg and this court must therefore determine whether the EEOC's action against it was "frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation."

 Although there is no precise test for determining whether a lawsuit is frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation, the Seventh Circuit has articulated some factors to help guide the district courts. See ...


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