MACH MINING, LLC v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
13-1019
Petitioner 
Mach Mining, LLC
Respondent 
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Decided By 
Advocates
(for the petitioner)
(Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received a complaint from a woman who claimed Mach Mining, LLC (Mach Mining) denied her a job because of her gender. The EEOC determined that there was reasonable cause to believe Mach Mining had discriminated against female applicants and began conciliation, but the parties ultimately could not agree and the EEOC sued on the female applicants’ behalf. Mach Mining argued that the EEOC did not conciliate in good faith, and the EEOC moved for summary judgment on whether failure to conciliate in good faith is a viable defense to its suit for unlawful discrimination. The district court denied the motion and held that courts may review the EEOC’s informal settlement efforts to determine whether the EEOC made a sincere and reasonable effort to negotiate.

Nonetheless, the court certified the question to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The appellate court reversed and held that, so long as the EEOC has pleaded that it complied with Title VII and the relevant documents are facially sufficient, judicial review is satisfied. The appellate court noted that Title VII gives the EEOC complete discretion to accept or reject settlement offers during informal conciliation and provides no standard to evaluate the failure-to-conciliate affirmative defense. Therefore, the appellate court determined that allowing an employer to use failure-to-conciliate as an affirmative defense would protract and complicate employment discrimination cases.

Question 

Are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s conciliation efforts judicially reviewable and, if so, to what extent?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Mach Mining, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Yes, but the scope of the review is narrow. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the opinion for the unanimous Court, which held that, while judicial review to ensure that the EEOC fulfilled its statutory obligation to attempt conciliation before suing was appropriate, the scope of such review must be narrow in recognition of the EEOC’s extensive discretion. Because there is a strong presumption in favor of judicial review, the Court will only hold that judicial review is inappropriate when Congress has expressly stated in statute that an agency is permitted to police itself. Despite the fact that Congress granted the EEOC broad leeway on when to begin and end conciliation, there is no indication that Congress intended to make the EEOC immune to judicial review. The scope of such review must be limited to what Title VII requires of the EEOC; that the EEOC provide the employer with notice of the specific allegation and allow the employer the opportunity to remedy the allegedly discriminatory practice.

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MACH MINING, LLC v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 29 July 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2014/2014_13_1019>.
MACH MINING, LLC v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2014/2014_13_1019 (last visited July 29, 2015).
"MACH MINING, LLC v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 29, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2014/2014_13_1019.