(CN) - Federal Express wrongfully refused to comply with an administrative subpoena from the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the 9th Circuit ruled.
Tyrone Merritt sued FedEx in 2004, alleging that the company's Basic Skills Test was biased and led to his ineligibility. He also sued on behalf of other similarly situated African-American and Latino employees.
FedEx refused to comply with the EEOC subpoena, which sought information about FedEx's computer database. The company claimed that the EEOC lost jurisdiction in the case when Merritt joined a class-action lawsuit.
The district court ruled that there were no defects in the EEOC's jurisdiction. On appeal, FedEx argued that it already delivered the same information to the EEOC in a subpoena from a different case. The company argued that Merritt's appeal should be dismissed as moot.
In a case of first impression, Judge Tashima of the San Francisco-based federal appeals court ruled that the EEOC retained the authority to issue subpoenas after it issued a right-to-sue notice and after the employee enters into a private action against the company.
"The EEOC decided to continue investigating Merritt's charge because it involved a possible policy or pattern of discrimination affecting others," Tashima wrote.
Also, Tashima ruled that the case was not moot because there may be collateral legal consequences from the lawsuit.
"FedEx has given no assurance that it will not challenge another subpoena stemming from the Merritt charge," the judge wrote.
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