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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Farmer's Pride, Inc.

United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

March 20, 2014

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION
v.
FARMER’S PRIDE, INC.

MEMORANDUM

R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

Presently before the Court is Applicant Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 24), and Motion to Stay (ECF No. 25), as well as Plaintiff Intervenors Christian Ramirez and Friends of Farmworkers, Inc.’s Motion to Intervene and to Alter and Amend (ECF No. 28). For the following reasons, the EEOC’s Motion for Reconsideration will be denied, the EEOC’s Motion to Stay will be dismissed as moot, and Plaintiff Intervenors’ Motion will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 20, 2011, Christian Ramirez filed an amended charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), alleging that Respondent, Farmer’s Pride, Inc., discriminated against him on the basis of sex and retaliated against him, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (Oct. 31, 2012 Mem. Op. 1, ECF No. 16.) Ramirez alleges that his female supervisor, Adelaid Colon, sexually harassed him, and that two male supervisors, Juan Sosa and Jose Luis, sexually harassed other women employees. (Id. at 2.) In addition, Ramirez claims that Respondent unlawfully retaliated against him for complaining about the sexual harassment, ultimately forcing him to resign. (Id.) The EEOC began investigating the matter, and as part of the investigation, on January 24, 2012, it issued and served Respondent with Subpoena No. PA 12-12 (“Subpoena”). (Id. at 3.) The Subpoena sought the names and contact information of potential witnesses and victims supervised by Sosa, as well as documents related to sexual harassment complaints filed at Respondent’s Fredericksburg facility since 2008. (Id. at 3-4; Subpoena, Lewis Decl. Attach. 5, ECF No. 1.)[1] On January 31, 2012, Respondent filed a petition to revoke the Subpoena. (Oct. 31 Mem. Op. 4.) On April 5, 2012, the EEOC denied the petition to revoke. (Id.)

On May 18, 2012, seeking enforcement of the Subpoena, the EEOC filed an Application for an Order to Show Cause Why an Administrative Subpoena Should not Be Enforced (“Application”). (Id. at 5.) On July 13, 2012, a hearing was held on the Application. (Id.) At the hearing, we heard testimony from Liz Chacko, Esquire, an attorney for Friends of Farmworkers (“FOF”), who currently represents Ramirez, received exhibits, and heard arguments from counsel. (Id.) On July 16, 2012, the EEOC, with the Court’s approval, filed a letter statement attaching further documentation concerning the Application. (Id.)

On October 31, we filed a Memorandum and Order granting in part and denying in part the EEOC’s Application. (Oct. 31, Mem. Op.; Oct. 31, 2012 Order, ECF No. 17.) We ordered Respondent to comply with the Subpoena, but directed that a confidentiality order be entered prohibiting the disclosure of private contact information of Respondent’s employees to Ramirez, Chacko, and FOF or its attorneys. (Oct. 31 Mem. Op.) In the October 31, 2012 Memorandum, we analyzed whether sufficient “good cause” existed for the entry of a confidentiality order, and concluded that Respondent had submitted sufficient evidence to establish that, if the EEOC disclosed the personal information of Respondent’s employees to Ramirez, Chacko, or FOF, the information may well be used for union solicitation purposes. This would result in a violation of the privacy interests of the employees. (Id. at 15-16.) We determined that such a violation of the employees’ privacy interests was a clearly defined injury that supported the entry of a confidentiality order. (Id. at 16-18.) Moreover, we were not persuaded that the statutes, rules, and regulations that bind the EEOC would sufficiently protect the confidentiality of the personal information of Respondent’s employees, further supporting the entry of a confidentiality order. (Id.)

The EEOC filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration of the Court’s October 31, 2012 Order (EEOC’s Mot., ECF No. 24) and the Motion to Stay the enforcement of the October 31, 2012 Order pending the resolution of the Motion for Reconsideration (Mot. Stay, ECF No. 25). Respondent filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration and a Response to the Motion to Stay. (Respondent’s Opp., ECF No. 26; Respondent’s Resp., ECF No. 27.) Plaintiff Intervenors, Ramirez and FOF then filed a Motion to Intervene in this enforcement action. (Mot. Intervene, ECF No. 28.) The EEOC filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion to Intervene (EEOC’s Opp., ECF No. 31), and Respondent also filed a Response in Opposition (Respondent’s Opp. Mot. Intervene, ECF No. 32).

II. MOTION TO INTERVENE

A. Legal Standard

Ramirez and FOF seek intervention as a matter of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2). A party seeking to intervene as of right must establish each of the following requirements: (1) a timely application for leave to intervene; (2) a sufficient interest in the underlying litigation; (3) a threat that the interest will be impaired or affected by the disposition of the underlying action; and (4) that the existing parties to the action do not adequately represent the prospective intervener’s interests. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Treesdale, Inc., 419 F.3d 216, 220 (3d Cir. 2005). “Each of these requirements must be met to intervene as of right.” Mountain Top Condo. Assoc. v. Dave Stabbert Master Builder, Inc., 72 F.3d 361, 366 (3d Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).

In the alternative, Ramirez and FOF seek to intervene under Rule 24(b)(1)(B), which permits intervention when the intervening party “has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(1)(B). “In exercising its discretion, the court must consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties’ rights.” Id. at (b)(3).

B. Discussion

1.Rule 24(a)(2)

Ramirez and FOF contend that their Motion should be granted because they meet all four requirements of Rule 24(a)(2). The EEOC and Respondent disagree. The EEOC argues that the Motion to Intervene must be denied because Ramirez and FOF do not have a sufficient interest in the enforcement of the EEOC’s administrative subpoena. Respondent sets forth a similar ...


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