Co-authored by Christopher J. DeGroff  and  Laura J. Maechtlen

On November 4, 2010, Judge Elaine Bucklo of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered Kable News Company to respond to a wide ranging EEOC subpoena over stiff resistance by the Company, view ruling.  The EEOC sought nearly three years of detailed, Company-wide employee data to investigate a single former employee’s age claim.  Kable News first objected that the subpoena was overbroad and sought information irrelevant to the employee’s claim.  The Court rejected the argument, citing the extremely broad latitude the EEOC was arguably afforded when investigating age claims.  Kable News also complained that the subpoena represented too much of a burden, and responding to the subpoena would monopolize its HR staff for as much as three months.  The Court rebuffed these arguments as well, expressing skepticism that this would pose such a significant burden on a large corporate employer, View Docket Entry.

With the sharp rise in EEOC subpoena enforcement actions, employers must pick their arguments wisely.  Relevance is a difficult argument, particularly in age claims, and arguing that responding to a subpoena would be unduly burdensome must be backed up by compelling and detailed arguments, particularly when made by a large corporate employer.