42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k) is the Fee-Shifting Statute.
Interestingly enough, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k) has a fee-shifting statute allowing district judges to assess fees/costs against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if it does not prevail in an action, with the added wrinkle that the winning defendant must prove that EEOC’s action was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation under the Christiansburg standard.
Well, that is what happened against the EEOC in EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc., Case No. 07-CV-95-LRR (N.D. Iowa Doc. No. 400 filed Aug. 1, 2013).
The district judge determined that fees, expenses, and costs were awardable to the defense attorneys because the allegations about female workers being harassed by male employees were unreasonable and groundless in nature, consisting of “pattern or practice” claims and 153 individual claims (although the court did deduct 7% in some fees for one meritorious claim which was apparently settled).
So what was the final tallied damage against EEOC? $3,724,065.63 in pre-appeal defense fees, $465,230.47 in appeal defense fees, $413,387.58 in defense expenses, and $91,758.56 in routine costs, for a grand total of $4,694,442.14.
More on this decision can be found in Martha Nell’s August 6, 2013 post on the on-line version of the ABA Journal.