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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Autozone, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 14, 2016



          MARY M. ROWLAND United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff EEOC (“EEOC”) filed this lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq, seeking relief for Gonzala Gomez, Gary Clay, and Herman Matasar (“Claimants”) and any other individual who suffered from a qualified disability and was adversely affected by AutoZone's “no fault” attendance point policy. (Dkt. 18). This Court previously granted the EEOC's motion to quash document subpoenas that Defendants Autozone, Inc. and Autozoners, LLC (collectively, “AutoZone”) intended to issue on three subsequent employers of Claimants. (Dkt. 71). After AutoZone sought relief from that order, the District Judge ordered AutoZone to file a motion for reconsideration so that this Court could rule in the first instance whether new developments warranted modification of this Court's prior order quashing the subpoenas to subsequent employers. (Dkt. 90). For the reasons set forth below, Autozone's Motion for Relief from Order Quashing Subpoenas (“Motion”) (Dkt. 91) is granted in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 24, 2016, this Court quashed four subpoenas to three subsequent employers of the Claimants.[1] (Dkt. 64-1 at 5-9, 45-49, 85-94; Dkt. 71). On September 20 and 21, 2016, AutoZone deposed the Claimants. (Dkts. 92-2-4, Exhs. B-C). On October 19, 2016, AutoZone filed its Motion arguing that the deposition testimony revealed that EEOC's discovery responses regarding the Claimants' subsequent employment were incomplete and contained misrepresentations. (Dkt. 92 at 1). AutoZone requested relief from this Court's order and also requested to subpoena “all subsequent employment records for any other claimants in this litigation.” (Dkt. 91 at 2; Dkt. 92 at 6). However, at oral argument on November 2, 2016, AutoZone represented that it was no longer seeking leave to subpoena all subsequent employment records for any other claimants in the case.[2]

         The subpoenas that were the subject of the Court's prior order were to Advance Auto Parts, Daily Solutions, and Hot Rod Barn. (Dkt. 64-1 at 5-9, 45-49, 85-94). Gomez worked at Advance Auto Parts from November 20, 2010 to January 2011.[3](Dkt. 92-1 at 5). Clay worked at Daily Solutions from 2010 to 2013. Id. at 4. Matasar worked at Hot Rod Barn in 2011 or 2012 for 4-6 weeks and at Advance Auto Parts from January or February 2013 to August 2013. Id. at 5; Dkt. 92-4 at 9.

         The EEOC maintains that the subpoenas should be quashed because the discovery sought through the subpoenas: (1) is duplicative of information already provided; (2) not relevant; and (3) would harm Claimants.


         A. Applicable Law

         District courts have broad discretion in supervising discovery and ruling on discovery motions. Cent. States, Se. & Sw. Areas Pension Fund v. Waste Mgmt. of Mich., Inc., 674 F.3d 630, 636 (7th Cir. 2012); United States v. Ashman, 979 F.2d 469, 495 (7th Cir. 1992). A court considering a motion to quash a subpoena weighs the benefits of producing the information sought, the burdens of compliance, whether the information is available from another source, the relevance and scope of the requests, and the interests of the non-parties as well as the parties. HTG Capital Partners, LLC v. Doe, No. 15 C 02129, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126358, at *9-10 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 22, 2015); Charvat v. Travel Servs., No. 12 CV 5746, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 472, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 5, 2015) (citations omitted); Purzel Video GmbH v. Doe, No. 13 C 0792, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179738, at *27 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 19, 2013) (citing Nw. Mem'l Hosp. v. Ashcroft, 362 F.3d 923, 928 (7th Cir. 2004)); Salas v. 3M Co., No. 08 C 1614, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124993, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 28, 2008).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45, the scope of discovery that a party may seek in a subpoena is as broad as the rules of discovery allow. EEOC v. Rexnord Indus., LLC, No. 11-CV-777, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91006, at *15 (E.D. Wis. June 29, 2012). A subpoena may request information about “any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case…” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The party opposing discovery has the burden to show why the discovery is not proper. HTG Capital Partners, LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126358, at *9 (citation and quotations omitted).

         B. AutoZone Can Subpoena Wage and Benefits Information

         The EEOC argues that wage and benefits information sought in the subpoenas is duplicative of information AutoZone sought from the EEOC. (Dkt. 77 at 2).

         AutoZone's second set of document requests seeks all documents reflecting “any and all employment, including work as an independent contractor or under self-employment status, for which [Claimants] have applied or have been offered since their employment separation with AutoZone” (Dkt. 72-2 at 7). The EEOC objected to the request as overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not relevant but agreed to produce W-2 and 1099 forms or other documents sufficient to reflect all income earned by each Claimant “as well as documents that reflect the Aggrieved Individual's efforts to obtain employment during that period of time.” (Dkt. 72-1 at 3-4). The EEOC produced the W-2 and 1099 records within Claimants' possession and requested transcripts from the IRS of earned income reported for each Claimant subsequent to their discharge from AutoZone (Dkt. 77 at 2). The EEOC produced some information, but AutoZone still does not have complete wage information. (Dkt. 92 at 3). At the November 2, 2016 hearing, the EEOC argued that an employer is not likely to have a W-2 if the IRS does not have it; however, the employer likely would have payroll and benefit records.

         It is undisputed that these records are relevant and AutoZone limited the subpoenas to the time period during which the EEOC is seeking backpay for the Claimants (Dkt. 72-1 at 2).[4] And since the EEOC has not been able to ...

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