EEOC v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC, No. 15-20078 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
The EEOC filed suit against Bass Pro pursuant to Sections 706 and 707 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., alleging that the company engaged in a practice of racially discriminatory hiring. EEOC seeks damages and equitable relief. The district court denied Bass Pro's motion for summary judgment, allowing the litigation to proceed. Bass Pro then filed this interlocutory appeal. The court concluded that Congress did not prohibit the EEOC from bringing pattern or practice suits under Section 706 and, in turn, from carrying them to trial with sequential determinations of liability and damages in a bifurcated framework. The court declined to imply limits upon the trial court’s management power that not only cannot be located in the language of the statute but also confound the plain language of the Federal Rules. The court rejected Bass Pro's assertions that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States model for proving pattern or practice claims would be unconstitutional, offending both due process and the Seventh Amendment. The court noted that the district court - with the flexibility afforded to it by the Rules of Civil Procedure - is in the best position to fulfill the task of enforcing the Congressional charge to protect the rights of employees. Finally, the court held that the conciliation here satisfied the Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC standard. Since the EEOC is authorized to bring a pattern or practice suit under Section 706, the fact that it focused on pattern or practice evidence instead of individual claims during the investigation and conciliation process is of no consequence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on April 28, 2017.