EEOC Files Suit Over Separation Agreement Language

The EEOC filed suit Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois claiming that CVS Pharmacy violated Title VII by using separation agreements that allegedly limited the rights of employees to communicate with the agency, file charges, and participate in investigations (EEOC v. CVS Pharmacy Inc., Civil Action No. 1:14-CV-683).  EEOC ImageThe EEOC specifically took issue with provisions in the separation agreements requiring employees to notify CVS if they receive a subpoena, deposition notice, interview request, or other inquiry from any investigator, attorney, or other third party; prohibiting employees from disparaging the company; prohibiting employees from disclosing confidential information; releasing “charges” against the company relating to “unlawful discrimination;” and agreeing not to sue the company.  As one of the remedies requested, the EEOC wants the court to give employees who were subject to the agreements the opportunity to file a charge within three hundred days, basically restarting their limitations period.  If the case moves forward, it will be interesting to see whether the court agrees with the EEOC’s position.  After all, the employees who signed the agreements presumably did so precisely because they had no intention of taking any sort of legal action against CVS.  Unfortunately, these types of cases often get settled early, allowing the EEOC to declare victory, but leaving employers uncertain about the law governing their agreements.    

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