The EEOC’s case against CVS in Illinois has been dismissed, albeit on a technicality.
CVS’ severance agreements were the subject of the litigation. Specifically, the EEOC believed that the fine print of the severance agreements would require employees to give up the right to sue in exchange for some benefits. The EEOC argued it violated Title VII for discouraging employees from enforcing those rights.
CVS sought to dismiss the case before trial, arguing that its severance agreements contained the same language commonly found in most agreements. The district court judge did not address the substantive merits of the claims by the parties. Instead the case was dismissed because the EEOC failed to engage in its legally mandated formal settlement discussions with CVS before filing the case. The EEOC was required to try and eliminate “any such alleged employment practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion.” Trying to get around this obligation, the EEOC unsuccessfully argued that it had brought the suit under a different section where the company was “engag[ing] in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights” under Title VII. As was evidenced by the dismissal, the court did not accept this argument.