Suppose that your former employee files a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After an investigation, the EEOC concludes that there is probable cause that your company violated one or more of the federal anti-discrimination laws that the agency is tasked with enforcing.
So, your employee decides to the file a lawsuit in federal court. And, those claims get all the way to a jury.
Can the employee-plaintiff introduce evidence that the EEOC already determined that the employer-defendant probably discriminated against the plaintiff?
This question comes a lot. Especially, with your clients; not mine.
The answer is generally no.
This issue just came up in a recent Pennsylvania federal case (opinion here), and the court concluded that evidence of an EEOC determination “should be excluded because it presents a risk of unfair prejudice that outweighs its probative value.” That’s fancy speak for “the jury is going to get confused.”
Indeed, this holds true whichever way the EEOC comes out. EEOC findings, conclusions, and determinations have little, if any, meaningful value to a jury.
But, if there is information — facts — that either side submits to the EEOC, a jury may hear that.
Originally published on Employer Handbook blog.
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