join a plaintiff as a named representative, who is relying on a
continuous violation theory to revive a procedurally stale claim for
being wrongfully denied a promotion (not to mention the admitted
circumstances surrounding Hygrade's reason for promoting someone else)
and who may not be able to establish a predicate discriminatory act
within the filing period, would not, on balance, further the interests of
justice. Thus, I find that justice does not require the joining of these
particular plaintiffs, Quarles and Posey, as named plaintiffs.
C. Temporal Scope of Written Discovery Requests
The scope of discovery through interrogatories and requests for
production of documents is particularly broad in a Title VII case. Brown
v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 1982 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16328, at *2
(N.D.Ohio Sept. 28, 1982); Stevenson v. General Electric Co., 1978 WL
150, at *1 (S.D.Ohio Oct.4, 1978). The scope of discovery, however, is
not without its limits and is "committed to the sound discretion of the
trial court." McClain v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 85 F.R.D. 53, 57 (E.D.Pa.
1979); see also Regent Nat'l Bank v. Dealers Choice Automotive Planning,
1998 WL 961377, at *6 (E.D.Pa. Dec.15, 1998). The party seeking the
discovery has the burden of clearly showing the relevancy of the
information sought. McClain, 85 F.R.D. at 57.
In setting time limits, courts generally consider relevancy and the
burdensomeness of furnishing the information requested by the plaintiff.
See, e.g., Regent Nat'l Bank, 1998 WL 961377, at *6; Clarke v. Mellon
Bank, 1993 WL 170950, at *2 (E.D.Pa. May 11, 1993). It is well
established that discovery of conduct predating the liability period of a
Title VII lawsuit is relevant and courts have commonly extended the scope
of discovery to a reasonable number of years prior to the liability
period of a Title VII lawsuit. See, e.g., James v. Newspaper Agency
Corp., 591 F.2d 579 (10th Cir. 1979) (4 years); General Ins. Co. v.
EEOC, 491 F.2d 133 (9th Cir. 1974) (8 years held excessive); Lyoch v.
Anheuser-Busch Co., 164 F.R.D. 62, 67 (E.D.Mo. 1995) (4 years);
Stevenson, 1978 WL 150, at *1 (noting emergence of a "five year rule");
Milner v. Nat'l Sch. of Health Tech., 73 F.R.D. 628, 632 (E.D.Pa. 1977)
(approximately 5 years prior to alleged violation). McClain, 85 F.R.D. at
63 (5 years); Cormier v. PPG Indus., 452 F. Supp. 594 (W.D.La. 1978) (5
years). Thus, the task of the trial court is to balance the clear
relevance of the information against the burden on the defendant. Clarke
v. Mellon Bank, 1993 WL 170950, at *2 (E.D.Pa. May 11, 1993).
Plaintiffs have, in their written discovery, requested information
dating back to January 1, 1990. Hygrade has agreed to produce documents
dating back to March 1, 1994, but objects to what it describes as
excessive and overly burdensome discovery with little or no demonstrated
relevance. Plaintiffs counter by asserting that the information they seek
is relevant to establishing a pattern and practice of discrimination in
the workplace during the time plaintiffs were employed by Hygrade.
After weighing the relevancy of the information sought against the
burden imposed upon defendants, I am persuaded that the request of the
plaintiffs is overly broad and unduly burdensome. I therefore exercise my
discretion to limit the temporal scope of the plaintiffs' discovery
requests. However, I have also considered that the plaintiffs have
alleged a continuing violation and that the scope, including the temporal
scope, of discovery through interrogatories and requests for production
of documents is particularly broad in Title VII cases. Thus, on balance,
I am convinced that limiting the scope of discovery to a period of five
years prior to the filing of the earliest EEOC charge (which was filed on
May 4, 1998) is reasonable and is sufficient for purposes of gathering
information to establish a violation of Title VII and/or a continuing
violation. Accordingly, Hygrade shall respond
to all permissible discovery for the time period beginning May 1, 1993.
Based upon the foregoing, the motion of Hygrade to dismiss the hiring,
promotion and termination claims of the plaintiffs for lack of standing,
as well as its motion for a protective order, will be denied. The motion
of the plaintiffs to join additional parties will also be denied.
Finally, the motion of Hygrade to limit the temporal scope of the
plaintiffs' written discovery will be granted.
AND NOW, on this. 24th day of March, 2000, upon consideration of the
motion of the defendant Hygrade Food Products ("Hygrade") to dismiss the
hiring, promotion and termination claims of plaintiffs (Document No. 24)
for lack of standing and the response and reply thereto, and for the
reasons set forth in the foregoing memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that
the motion is DENIED. For the same reasons, the motion of Hygrade for a
protective Order limiting the scope of plaintiffs written discovery
related to plaintiffs' hiring, promotion and termination claims (Document
No. 38), is also DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion of plaintiffs to join additional
parties (Document No. 35) is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion of Hygrade for a protective Order
limiting the temporal scope of the plaintiffs' written discovery
(Document No. 37) is GRANTED. Consistent with the foregoing memorandum,
Hygrade shall respond to all permissible discovery for the time period
beginning May 1, 1993.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall appear before the Court
for a case management conference at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 5,
2000, in Courtroom 11A, U.S. Courthouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, no later than 12:00 PM EST on Tuesday,
April 4, 2000, the parties shall deliver to the Court in Chambers a draft
agenda for the conference and a proposed scheduling Order.