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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. United Air Lines

April 25, 2002

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
UNITED AIR LINES, INCORPORATED, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 01 C 0242--George W. Lindberg, Judge.

Before Coffey, Easterbrook and Ripple, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED NOVEMBER 29, 2001

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brought this action to enforce an administrative subpoena against United Air Lines, Inc. ("UAL") in the course of its investigation into charges of national origin and sex discrimination filed by a UAL flight attendant, Maureen Droge. The district court enforced the subpoena in its entirety. UAL appealed, and we now affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Ms. Droge began working for UAL as a flight attendant in 1990. In 1995, she requested, and was granted, a temporary assignment in Paris, France. While assigned in Paris, Ms. Droge became pregnant. Because UAL does not allow its flight attendants to fly during their third trimester of pregnancy, Ms. Droge was placed on involuntary leave. At some point, Ms. Droge apparently applied for temporary disability benefits through the French social security system. She was denied benefits, however, because UAL did not make contributions to the French system on behalf of its American flight attendants.

On February 8, 1999, Ms. Droge filed a charge of discrimination, alleging that UAL had violated Title VII by discriminating against her and other Americans on the basis of their national origin. Specifically, Ms. Droge alleged:

I. I am employed by Respondent in Paris, France. Respondent does not pay into the French Social Security system for me and other Americans employed or domiciled in France. As a result, Americans are not compensated for absences from work due to illness or temporary disability whereas French employees are.

II. I believe that I and other Americans have been discriminated against because of our national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, in that Respondent does not contribute to the French Social [security system], but is permitted to do so under French law, for Americans employed or domiciled in France. R.9, Tab 9, Ex.B.

In its response to the charge, UAL explained that Ms. Droge's benefits are governed by a collective bargaining agreement and that her eligibility for French social security benefits is dictated by international treaty. Specifically, UAL stated that a treaty between the United States and France, Agreement on Social Security Between the United States and the French Republic ("treaty"), prevented it from contributing to the French social security system on behalf of American citizens. The EEOC, however, determined that it needed additional information in order to assess the merits of the charge. Consequently, it requested that UAL provide the following:

1. Identify each and every benefit received by employees of United Airlines who are French citizens resident in France including, but not limited to, health insurance, unemployment insurance--or its equivalent, pension or social security benefits--or their equivalents, disability benefits, medical or family leave benefits--or their equivalents.

2. For each benefit identified pursuant to paragraph 1 above, state whether the benefit is provided through a French governmental entity, through a private contractor, or directly by United Airlines or its subsidiaries.

3. For each benefit identified pursuant to paragraph 1 above, state whether United Airlines or any of its subsidiaries makes any financial contribution toward the benefit.

4. For each benefit identified pursuant to paragraph 1 above, state whether that benefit is provided pursuant to law or voluntarily. If it is providedpursuant to law, identify the law which mandates the benefit.

5. For each benefit identified pursuant to paragraph 1 above, state whether the benefit may be provided to United employees residing in France who are not French citizens. For any benefit which United asserts may not be provided to non-French citizens, state the basis of that assertion.

6. For each benefit identified pursuant to paragraph 1 above, state whether the benefit is provided to United employees residing in France who are not French citizens.

7. For each benefit which may be provided to United employees who reside in France but are not French citizens state the following:

a. Why is the benefit not provided to those employees;

b. What benefit, if any, is provided to those employees in lieu of the benefit not provided.

8. For each benefit identified pursuant to paragraph 7.b. above, state the cost to United Airlines--in current U.S. dollars--of the benefit provided to employees who are French citizens and the cost of the benefit provided to employees who are not French citizens.

9. For each benefit identified pursuant to paragraph 7.b. above, state the value of each benefit provided to employees who are French citizens--in current U.S. dollars--and state the value of each benefit provided to employees who are not French citizens.

10. Identify each United Airlines employee residing abroad who has taken or been placed on a medical leave of absence, disability leave, or who has been otherwise laid off. For each such employee, state the basis for the leave or layoff, the sex of the employee, the citizenship of the employee and the nationality of the employee. Specifically ...


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