An EEOC administrative subpoena for names, addresses and phone numbers of co-workers should have been enforced as the information was relevant to the charge the EEOC was investigating, allowing the EEOC to contact co-workers to weigh whether the employer’s test was discriminatory. On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit applies the abuse of discretion standard to review the district court’s order quashing the EEOC’s subpoena, but still reaches the same result, overturning the order. The EEOC is empowered by statute to obtain any evidence that is relevant to an employment discrimination charge under its investigation. The name, address and phone number information that the EEOC’s subpoena sought was relevant to the charge it was investigating since the information would allow the EEOC to contact other employees to assess whether the test it administered to them as well as the complainant was discriminatory. The district court abused its discretion in denying enforcement on the ground the EEOC didn’t need that information at this stage of its investigation, but the appropriate standard was much laxer, allowing the EEOC to obtain virtually any evidence that might cast light on the allegations against the employer.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Watford, J.); May 24, 2017; 2017 WL 2261015