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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. University of Pittsburgh

decided: March 17, 1981.



Before Hunter, Garth and Higginbotham, Circuit Judges.

Author: Hunter


Appellant, the University of Pittsburgh, appeals from the district court's order enforcing a subpoena duces tecum issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC requested the subpoena pursuant to an investigation of alleged unlawful discrimination by the University against female faculty members in the School of Nursing. The district court held that the issuance of the subpoena was within the power of the Commission and dismissed the University's counterclaim by sustaining the EEOC regulations that permit disclosure of investigative files to the charging party. We affirm the district court's enforcement order and in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in EEOC v. Associated Dry Goods, 449 U.S. 590, 101 S. Ct. 817, 66 L. Ed. 2d 762 (1981) authorize release of the EEOC's investigative file to the charging party.


On July 8, 1977, Margaret F. Carroll, Acting Executive Director of the American Nurses Association, ("ANA") filed a charge of sex discrimination with the EEOC. The charge alleged that the University of Pittsburgh discriminated against women faculty members by, inter alia, paying them lower monthly salaries than that paid to male faculty.*fn1

The EEOC began its investigation with a request for information concerning the sex, salary levels, experience, and job responsibilities of the faculty in four of the fifteen professional schools on the University's Pittsburgh campus: the Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions, and Social Work. The University refused to provide the information voluntarily, and on August 1, 1978 the district director of the EEOC's Pittsburgh office issued a subpoena duces tecum for the data.*fn2 The University filed a petition to quash the subpoena, and the Commission denied this request. In November of 1979, the EEOC filed an application to enforce the subpoena, pursuant to section 710 of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-9 (1976). The University counterclaimed for injunctive and declaratory relief claiming that the EEOC regulations that permitted the disclosure of investigatory files prior to litigation violated the prohibition against public disclosure contained in section 709(e) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-8(e) (1976).*fn3

After a full hearing on the merits, the district court ordered enforcement of the subpoena and authorized disclosure of the investigative material in accordance with agency regulations. See 29 C.F.R. § 1601.22 (1979). In so ruling the court held that although the scope of the subpoena was quite broad, the material requested was relevant to the charge of sex based discrimination and should be produced.

On April 4, 1980 the University filed a motion for rehearing which the district court denied. This appeal followed.


A. Subpoena enforcement

In Powell v. United States, 379 U.S. 48, 57-58, 85 S. Ct. 248, 254-255, 13 L. Ed. 2d 112 (1964) the Supreme Court established three requirements for the enforcement of an administrative subpoena. Specifically, it is the government's burden to prove: (1) that the investigation has a legitimate purpose and that the inquiry may be relevant to that purpose; (2) that the information sought is not already within the government's possession; and (3) that procedures required by the agency issuing the subpoena have been followed. Id. See also United States v. McCarthy, 514 F.2d 368, 372 (3d Cir. 1975). The trial court found the subpoenaed information to be relevant, not already within the possession of the Commission, and requested pursuant to agency procedure. These findings are not clearly erroneous and we affirm the district court for the reasons discussed below. Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a). See Denicola v. G. C. Murphy, Co., 562 F.2d 889, 892 (3d Cir. 1977) (factual findings of district court in Title VII cases must be sustained unless clearly erroneous).

The University claims that because the EEOC is investigating solely the employment practices of the School of Nursing, the faculty information from other schools is irrelevant. There can be no comparison between the various schools within the University, appellant argues, because, among other things, the composition of the student bodies differs; the courses, programs, and research of each school are distinct; the external competition for faculty positions differs; and the amount of faculty research and publication required varies widely between schools.

The EEOC seeks the faculty employment records of four related schools. While the employment data from these schools may not be identical with data from the School of Nursing, such information may provide a useful context for evaluating the practices under investigation. A similar subpoena request was upheld by the tenth circuit in EEOC v. University of New Mexico, 504 F.2d 1296 (10th Cir. 1974), where the commission requested faculty employment records for the entire college of engineering even though the investigation was limited to the employment practices of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. In enforcing the subpoena request, the court stressed that the material requested was relevant to the inquiry and sufficiently definite: "The inquiry is within the authority of the agency, the demand is not too indefinite and the information sought is relevant .... All that is now required is that the investigation be for a lawfully authorized purpose." Id. at 1302, quoting from, United States v. Morton Salt Co., 338 U.S. 632, 652, 94 L. Ed. 401, 70 S. Ct. 357 (1950). Compare CAB v. United Air Lines, 542 F.2d 394, 402 (7th Cir. 1976) (material sought amounted to a "general warrant" enforcement denied). The material requested here is not indefinite, but limited to the practices of four related schools within the University. Further, because the School of Nursing faculty is almost totally female, examination of other schools is crucial for any investigation of gender based discrimination. In light of these circumstances the ...

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