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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Mach Mining, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 22, 2016

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff
v.
MACH MINING, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

         This Court conducted a hearing on August 16, 2016, in Benton, Illinois with regard to Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) Motion (Doc. 144) for Clarification or Reconsideration of the Court’s January 21, 2016 Order (Doc. 141); Motion (Doc. 145) for Leave to File First Amended Complaint; and Motion (Doc. 161) to File Supplement to Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint.

         1. Background.

         The EEOC filed the instant suit on behalf of Brooke Petkas and a class of female applicants who had applied for non-office jobs at Mach Mining. According to the EEOC, Mach Mining “has never hired a single female for a mining-related position, ” and “did not even have a women’s bathroom on its mining premises.” (Doc. 32, p. 1-2). The complaint alleges that Mach Mining’s Johnston City, Illinois, facility engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful employment practices since at least January 1, 2006, in violation of Title VII, by engaging in sex discrimination.

         In its answer (Doc. 10), Mach Mining asserted the affirmative defense that the EEOC failed to conciliate in good faith and that issue was decided by the United States Supreme Court which held:

We hold that a court may review whether the EEOC satisfied its statutory obligation to attempt conciliation before filing suit. But we find that the scope of that review is narrow, thus recognizing the EEOC’s extensive discretion to determine the kind and amount of communication with an employer appropriate in any given case. Mach Mining. LLC v. E.E.O.C., 135 S.Ct. 1645, 1649 (2015). After the decision by the Supreme Court, the defendant filed a renewed Motion

         (Doc.134) for Partial Summary Judgment which this Court denied (Doc. 140). The Plaintiff then filed a Motion (Doc. 111) for Protective Order requesting that the Court preclude the EEOC, “from conducting discovery related to Mach’s relationship with other entities - entities which EEOC failed to include in the investigation and conciliation stage that prompted this action.” Magistrate Judge Frazier conducted a telephone hearing and upon completion of the hearing, denied defendant’s motion for a protective order. (Doc. 113).

         Defendant appealed the Magistrate’s ruling. (Doc. 117). This Court found that the ruling was not clearly erroneous or contrary to law; however, the Court sua sponte reconsidered the motion and granted in part defendant’s motion. The Court found that:

The EEOC had the opportunity to request any and all documents - including those on related entities - during its investigation of Mach Mining. There are no allegations that Mach Mining failed to cooperate with that investigation or that Mach Mining did not disclosure all requested information. As such, the EEOC has had ample opportunity to seek information and include any related entity in its investigation of Mach Mining. The EEOC’s Determination letter lists Mach Mining; Cline Resource and Development Company; and Coal Field Transport, Inc. as respondents. Any additional entities - whether or not related to Mach Mining - are not parties to this action and would have insufficient notice that they would be subject to discovery.” (Doc. 141, page 3).

         The Court then limited the EEOC from seeking discovery beyond the entities named in its Determination letter and the EEOC now moves for clarification or reconsideration of that order.

         1. Motion for Clarification or Reconsideration of the Court’s January 21, 2016 Order.

         Prior to hearing arguments, the Court noted that the January 21, 2016, did not intend to bar the EEOC from seeking discovery from any third party that may have relevant information pertaining to any issue in this matter. The holding of the January 21, 2016, was that the EEOC was barred from additional discovery for the purpose of adding parties where no notice and attempt at conciliation had been made. The Court then went on to hear arguments with regard to the motion for reconsideration and motion to amend.

         a. Standard for Reconsideration.

         “A court has the power to revisit prior decisions of its own . . . in any circumstance, although as a rule courts should be loathe to do so in the absence of extraordinary circumstances such as where the initial decision was ‘clearly erroneous and would work a manifest injustice.’” Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 817 (1988) (quoting Arizona v. California, 460 U.S. 605, 618 n. 8 (1983)); Fed. R. Ci P. 54(b) (providing a non-final order “may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties’ rights and liabilities”). The decision whether to reconsider a previous ruling in the same case is governed by the law of the case doctrine. Santamarina v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 466 F.3d 570, 571-72 (7th Cir. 2006). The law of the case is a discretionary doctrine that creates a presumption against reopening matters already decided in the same litigation and authorizes ...


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