Sovereign Immunity Precludes Lawsuit Against EEOC Based on Alleged Mishandling of Investigation of Employment Discrimination Claim

In Jean v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2020 WL 7321057 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 3, 2020), the court dismissed a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for administering various federal anti-discrimination laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In this case, plaintiff asserts that the EEOC mishandled its investigation of an employment discrimination claim that plaintiff filed in Massachusetts.

In dismissing the complaint, the court explained:

Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the EEOC is immune from suit. The doctrine of sovereign immunity bars federal courts from hearing all suits against the federal government, including suits against federal agencies, unless sovereign immunity has been waived. United States v. Mitchell, 445 U.S. 535, 538 (1980); see Robinson v. Overseas Military Sales Corp., 21 F.3d 502, 510 (2d Cir. 1994) (“Because an action against a federal agency … is essentially a suit against the United States, such suits are … barred under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, unless such immunity is waived.”).

Where a Plaintiff brings an employment discrimination action against her employer, “Title VII provides no express or implied cause of action against the EEOC for claims that the EEOC failed properly to investigate or process an employment discrimination charge.” Baba v. Japan Travel Bureau Int’l, 111 F.3d 2, 6 (2d Cir. 1997). Indeed, [c]ourts have repeatedly held that the United States has not waived sovereign immunity for suits against the EEOC based on the EEOC’s handling of an employment discrimination charge.” McKoy v. Potter, No. 08-CV-9428, 2009 WL 1110692, at * 5 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 21, 2009) (collecting cases).

Plaintiff brings this action against the EEOC based on its investigation of a complaint she filed in Massachustts against her employer. But Plaintiff cannot sue the EEOC. The Court therefore dismisses the action because Plaintiff seeks relief from a defendant immune from such relief.

The court concluded by denying plaintiff leave to amend their complaint, since the defects in the complaint were futile and, hence, non-curable.

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