CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Attorney Fees
  • Date Filed: December 4, 2015
  • Case #: 14-1375
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 774 F.3d 1169 (8th Cir. 2015)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the dismissal of a lawsuit, due to failure of the party to comply with pre-suit requirements, can form the basis of an award for attorney’s fees?

Respondent filed suit against Petitioner, an employer, alleging that Petitioner subjected approximately 270 female employees to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The complaint alleged that Petitioner was responsible for “severe and pervasive sexual harassment” in its driver training program. Respondent was ordered by the district court to make all employees specified in the complaint available for deposition. The court stated that failure to make an employee available for deposition would prevent Respondent from seeking relief on her behalf. Respondent failed to meet this pre-suit requirement. The district court then dismissed the Respondent’s complaint, and the 8th Circuit initially confirmed. After the district court awarded Petitioner over $4.5 million in costs, attorneys’ fees, and out-of-pocket expenses, the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded. The Eighth Circuit reasoned that Petitioner was not entitled to attorneys’ fees because civil rights fees can only be awarded to rulings “on the merits.” This decision conflicts with decisions in three other circuits. Petitioner asks the Supreme Court to resolve the circuit split.

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