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Harassment suit began with 270 alleged victims


The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's “total failure” to satisfy its investigation, reasonable cause and conciliation obligations, according to CRST Van Expedited Inc., is reason to order it to pay the trucking firm $4.7 million in legal fees.

The case alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964 began in 2007, when the EEOC filed a complaint on behalf of Monika Starke, a driver for Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based CRST and a class of “similarly situated” but unidentified CRST female employees of the company, according to court records.

During pretrial discovery, the EEOC identified 270 women whom it alleged had been sexually harassed.

The U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, dismissed 99 people who did not appear for depositions, and the EEOC dropped 18 other claims.

The District Court then granted summary judgment to CRST on 87 of the remaining 154 plaintiffs in the case, based on various grounds. Following an evidentiary hearing, it dismissed the remaining 67 plaintiffs.

Ultimately, EEOC and CRST agreed the trucking firm would pay $50,000 to settle just Ms. Starke's claim.

After dismissing the case, the District Court awarded CRST $4.7 million in attorney's fees, expenses and costs, but a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis remanded the case in December 2014.

CRST then turned to the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepted its appeal but has not yet set oral arguments.

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  • Fight over legal fees in bias case heads to high court

    The U.S. Supreme Court will consider an “egregious” and “outrageous” set of facts in determining whether the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must pay $4.7 million in legal fees that a trucking firm spent defending itself from sexual discrimination charges involving hundreds of workers, in a case where the agency largely did not prevail.