Labor and Employment > Employment/Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Advocacy

Frequently called upon to handle sensitive and high-profile discrimination matters, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s employment discrimination and civil rights attorneys have extensive trial and appellate experience in the litigation of employment claims against employers of all sizes. They regularly defend employee discrimination charges brought by the EEOC and other federal and state anti-discrimination agencies. These experiences include routine single plaintiff cases alleging discrimination or retaliation, as well as prominent cases on a wide range of employment issues. One of our most notable engagements has been our recent successful representation of the Freeman Company in the first case to test the EEOC’s 2012 policy guidance on criminal and background checks, as well as the boundaries of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Wall Street Journal covered the decision, stating that Freeman defeated “one of the [EEOC’s] most high-profile crusades.”

One of our partners, Donald Livingston, served as EEOC General Counsel under former President Bush. He is also the author of EEOC Litigation and Charge Resolution (BNA 2d. ed. 2014), the only treatise of its kind, which covers all aspects of dealing with the EEOC. Mr. Livingston is consistently recognized by Chambers USA, which describes him in the 2015 edition as “[being] held in high regard for his expertise in handling matters before the EEOC, and for his experience in discrimination and civil rights work.” He has also been praised by clients for his knowledge of procedures and practices within the organization—“very bright and creative in his approach to both litigation and legal problems in general.” (Chambers USA 2015). Another of our partners is a former principal deputy chief of the Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

This government enforcement experience, combined with our track record of defending employers in discrimination claims, allows us to bring tremendous depth and sophistication to our representation in these cases.

Our EEO attorneys specialize in class litigation across the full spectrum of discrimination claims, including the gamut of laws under Title VII as well as discrimination allegations related to age, national origin, pay and screening procedures. They are also dedicated both to defending EEOC “pattern or practice” cases as well as to handling major EEOC investigations. We have never allowed a client to suffer an adverse class judgment in an EEO case. In the vast majority of cases, our attorneys have been successful in defeating class certification, and, in one of the few EEO cases nationwide where a class was certified and the case went to trial (Paige, et al. v. California Highway Patrol), we obtained a defense verdict following an eight-week jury trial of race and national origin discrimination claims.

EEO Charges and Investigations

The firm frequently is retained by major national corporations to handle their EEOC charge investigations and defense. We have acted as counsel in connection with individual charges and as coordinating or regional counsel for all EEOC charges filed against major companies. We appear as counsel at mediations, conduct fact investigations, prepare charge responses and represent our clients in on-site investigations conducted by the EEOC or state and local fair employment practices agencies.

Relying on our vast experience with, and adverse to, the EEOC, we are frequently called upon to represent clients who are being investigated by that agency for alleged systemic discrimination. Often, we are brought in to replace, or occasionally assist, the law firm that initially handled the matter.

Typically, our work in cases involving the EEOC brings a quiet resolution. However, in a case where such a resolution was not possible, our work on the client’s behalf in a gender discrimination class action achieved what The Washington Post characterized as “the EEOC’s greatest defeat.”