The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been ordered to pay $4.5 million in attorney fees to a Cedar Rapids trucking firm that the agency sued more than two years ago for allegedly sexually harassing female drivers, a federal judge ruled earlier this week.
The award comes from U.S. District Judge Linda Reade. She rejected claims by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that CRST Van Expedited Inc. subjected women to sexual harassment and improper touching when they were paired with male drivers in sleeper-cab trucks for long-haul truck driver training.
The judge ruled in October that she was dismissing the "poorly prepared case" because doing otherwise "would ratify a 'sue first, ask questions later' litigation strategy on the part of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission." In her February 9, 2010 order and opinion, Judge Reade held that an award of substantial fees to CRST as the prevailing party was warranted because EEOC, among other things, acted unreasonably by suing CRST without first conducting the proper investigation required by law. “The EEOC’s failure to investigate and attempt to conciliate the individual [female driver] claims constituted an unreasonable failure to satisfy Title VII’s prerequisites to suit."