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

U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Victorious Defendants may Receive Attorney’s Fees Even in Cases Not Resolved on the Merits

Term: 2015 Term
Oral Argument Date: Mar 28, 2016
Vote: 8-0
Opinion: Kennedy
Questions Presented: 

Whether a dismissal of a Title VII case, based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s total failure to satisfy its pre-suit investigation, reasonable cause, and conciliation obligations, can form the basis of an attorney’s fee award to the defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k)?

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

In its brief, the U.S. Chamber urged the Supreme Court to hold that CRST is entitled to attorney’s fees from EEOC under Title VII for the government’s undisputedly illegal conduct.  Specifically, EEOC filed a class action-like lawsuit against CRST and sought relief for 67 individuals it first identified after it filed suit, without complying with Title VII’s multi-step pre-suit process.  The coalition brief argues that CRST is entitled to attorney’s fees under the enforcement provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–5(k).  The brief further argues that the EEOC should not be allowed to sidestep its failure to follow its statutory obligations under Title VII. 

American Trucking Associations, Inc. and Business Roundtable joined the U.S. Chamber on the brief.

Eric S. Dreiband and Kenton J. Skarin of Jones Day served as co-counsel to the amici with the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

Outcome Content: 

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that, for purposes of receiving attorney’s fees under Title VII, a defendant may be considered a prevailing party in a suit even if the case does not reach the merits.  

Procedural History: 

Cert. petition filed 5/19/2015. Cert. granted 12/4/2015.

U.S. Chamber amicus brief on the merits filed 1/26/2016.

Argued 3/28/2016.

Decided 5/19/2016.