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EEOC Continues to Have Broad Subpoena Power

A unanimous Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s right to subpoena employee medical information from a company database.

UPS manager Sinisa Matovski has claimed that the company posted his request for medical leave, along with personal medical information, on an intranet site available to all company employees. After he voiced his complaint about the posting, UPS purportedly retaliated against him in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In pursuing action on behalf of Mr. Matovski, the EEOC asked UPS for general information on its handling of medical information for other employees including what was considered private and what could be posted. UPS regarded the request as overbroad in its relevance to what was alleged as well as unduly burdensome.

The Sixth Circuit had previously determined that the EEOC could look for patterns of racial discrimination beyond those situations specifically alleged in a Charge of Discrimination. The court of appeals asserted that there was no reason “to hold differently with respect to discrimination on the basis of disability.” To the point, “so long as a charge alleges unlawful use of medical examinations and inquiries, evidence of patterns of such unlawful use is relevant to the charge under investigation.” Contrary to UPS’s argument, the EEOC was not limited to information pertaining to similarly situated employees.