eDiscovery Daily Blog

Defendant Compelled to Produce Employees’ Personal Data in EEOC Dispute: eDiscovery Case Law


In EEOC v. DolgenCorp LLC d/b/a Dollar General, No. 13-cv-04307 (N.D. Ill. May 5, 2015), Illinois District Judge Andrea R. Wood granted the plaintiff’s motion to compel the defendant to produce electronically-stored information (“ESI”) containing personal information of the defendant’s conditional hires and complete versions of documents that the defendant previously produced with portions redacted due to purported lack of relevance. She also ordered the plaintiff to produce documents previously withheld due to privilege for an in camera review.

Case Background

In this employment discrimination case, the plaintiff filed a motion to compel the defendant to produce ESI regarding conditional hires, including electronic data with names, social security numbers, addresses, and telephone numbers. The EEOC also asked the court to reproduce certain ESI that Defendant redacted due to purported lack of relevance, contending that it needed the ESI to prove its allegations that criminal background checks for African-American applicants had a disparate impact and violated federal law. While admitting that the information was relevant to the litigation, the defendant argued that producing this information would infringe on the privacy rights of the applicants. With regard to the redacted documents, the defendant argued that the redactions should stay because the information was proprietary and not relevant to the litigation.

In turn, the defendant filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to produce certain statistical analyses during the plaintiff’s investigation to determine whether to issue a reasonable cause determination of discrimination – these documents were not produced as they were deemed deliberative process and attorney work product privileged.

Judge’s Ruling

With regard to the personal information requested by the plaintiff, Judge Wood stated that the plaintiff “has established that the personal information it seeks is relevant to this litigation. The requested data fields are unquestionably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence by permitting the EEOC and its experts more effectively to analyze the statistical impact of Dollar General’s use of criminal background checks. As explained above, the information sought will be used to link several large databases together, allowing the EEOC to perform its disparate impact analysis. It will also permit the EEOC’s experts to analyze whether non-racial demographic factors may have caused a statistical impact.”

As for the defendant’s motion to compel, Judge Wood stated that the “Court is unable to determine the legitimacy of the EEOC’s deliberative process and attorney work product assertions without reviewing the documents in question. Accordingly, the Court orders the EEOC to deliver copies of the withheld documents to the magistrate judge (who is now responsible for supervising discovery) for in camera review. Upon reviewing the documents along with the EEOC’s privilege log, the magistrate judge will determine the applicability of the asserted privileges in light of the governing legal principles.”

So, what do you think? Was the court correct in ordering production of the personal information, or should the privacy rights of the individuals have taken precedent? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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