By Sara Goldsmith Schwartz
Should the EEOC be allowed to send an e-mail to 1,000 employees of a company, at their work e-mail accounts, to hunt for evidence against the company? One New York employer has sued the EEOC in federal court challenging the EEOC’s use of this tactic.
The EEOC’s e-mail told employees that the EEOC was investigating claims of discrimination by the employer, and contained a link to an internet survey about the employer. The employer apparently did not receive advance notice of the email, and the email did not specify that the EEOC’s inquiry was limited to age discrimination claims and that no finding of discrimination had been made.
The employer sued the EEOC pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act and the U.S. Constitution, claiming that the e-mail was an abuse of power, an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and an infringement on the employer’s constitutional right to due process. The lawsuit seeks an injunction that would prohibit the EEOC from using any information it gathered through the mass email.
The EEOC has moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that other methods of communication would have had the same impact, and that the e-mail was within the EEOC’s investigative power. The court has not yet ruled on the motion.