New opinion — Allstate beats the EEOC

EEOC v. Allstate — employment discrimination — affirmance — Hardiman

In the interest of efficiency, Allstate fired over six thousand of their agents, and then offered them all the chance to be independent contractors–but only if they signed a release that waived any legal claims about the firing. The EEOC sued Allstate, alleging that Allstate’s refusal to keep agents who would not sign away their firing claims was illegal retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment for Allstate, this court reversed, and the new district court granted summary judgment for Allstate again.

Today, CA3 affirmed, holding that the EEOC retaliation claim was foreclosed by prior holdings that employers can required fired employees to waive existing claims in exchange for un-earned benefits. The court rejected EEOC’s argument that the rule ought not apply because the employees were just converted into contractors, not severed.

Joining Hardiman’s opinion were Scirica and Barry. Arguing counsel were Paul Ramshaw for EEOC and former EEOC general counsel Donald Livingston of Akin Gump  for Allstate.