Federal Hearing Set for Dillard's in EEOC Case

Federal Hearing Set for Dillard's in EEOC Case
Dillard’s headquarters at 1600 Cantrell Road in Little Rock.  (Stephanie Dunn)

A U.S. District Court judge recently ordered Dillard’s Inc. to explain why it won’t comply with a subpoena from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC first received a complaint against the Little Rock retailer in 2011, when a black Dillard’s employee who worked in Little Rock said the company failed to promote her because of her race and she alleged that Dillard’s isn’t promoting black workers into management positions.

As part of the investigation, the EEOC wanted various employment records for Dillard’s black employees for all of its locations nationwide dating back to July 11, 2010. It has nearly 300 stores in 29 states and, as of the end of January, had approximately 40,000 employees.

But Dillard’s didn’t hand all the information over to the EEOC.

The EEOC then went to U.S. District Court in Little Rock and filed an application for an order to show cause why an administrative subpoena should not be enforced.

Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. said in his order last week that Dillard’s response to the subpoena is due July 1. And after that, a show cause hearing is set for 9 a.m. July 22 in Little Rock in the Richard Sheppard Arnold United States Courthouse. If a party fails to appear at that hearing, Marshall will consider imposing sanctions, he said in the order.

Dillard’s Response

Dillard’s has maintained in its communications with the EEOC, copies of which were attached as exhibits in the filing, that it doesn’t discriminate.

Dillard’s said it would have trouble handing over all the material the EEOC requested.

“Dillard’s has no automated method to identify all promotions,” Steven Moore, an attorney in Denver for Dillard’s, said in a letter in 2013 in response to the request for information. “It could identify some promotions through comparisons of job codes and perhaps other factors. It would take enormous effort to generate a manual review, and knowledgeable subjective factors required to identify a promotion such as store size, store volume, and work centers.”

He added in another letter in 2013 that that the retailer’s promotional policy is “essentially this: to provide its local management with the subjective discretion to choose the most qualified individuals for a job.”

Moore said the case should be dismissed.