In most employment cases, there is a named plaintiff (or plaintiffs), who are alleged to have suffered harm and/or to be representative of other employees who have been subject to similar allegedly unlawful actions. In cases brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the EEOC is the “plaintiff” and is operating under its authority to sue employers to obtain relief for victims of employment discrimination. A recent decision out of Illinois appears to permit the EEOC to proceed on behalf of a class of employees without disclosing factual information about the identities of all of the aggrieved employees. In EEOC v. UPS, UPS twice obtained dismissal of the EEOC’s complaint for violations of the ADA because the EEOC had not provided enough information about unidentified UPS employees for whom the EEOC was seeking relief. The EEOC’s third amended complaint, which identified two employees, was also dismissed. Pending the EEOC’s appeal of the dismissal, the Court reconsidered its prior decisions and reversed itself, permitting the EEOC to proceed. UPS then appealed this reversal. The Court denied UPS’ appeal and permitted the EEOC’s case to proceed, even though the EEOC did not have complete information on all possible victims of discrimination at the time the lawsuit was filed and, accordingly, arguably did not plead its claims with sufficient specificity.
This decision effectively requires UPS to defend the EEOC’s lawsuit without knowing who the alleged victims of its wrongful actions are at the outset of the case. Not a great position to be in when defending a lawsuit.