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by Michael Ravnitzky

In 1998, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated a unique and useful guide to some important aspects of employment discrimination law. This guide is the index to the EEOC's legal brief bank, a collection of legal filings and court documents concerning a wide range of employment issues.

The brief bank index, developed with public tax dollars, provides an overview of the complex issues arising when employees and companies become involved in possible discriminatory behavior, and the damages caused by employment discrimination. It also outlines areas that may not be protected under federal employment law. The index contains a list of subject areas as well as the designation numbers of legal documents and briefs covering that subject. Overall, the document demonstrates the wide scope of valuable work being done at the Commission.

It is very a very useful guide for attorneys practicing employment law.

EEOC is a federal agency tasked with enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination against certain protected groups and individuals. The Commission also coordinates federal government practices and policies concerning employment discrimination.

Among its holdings, EEOC maintains a library of legal filings and analyses associated with a wide range of topics in employment discrimination. In November 1998, the agency last revised its index to those 438 documents. According to EEOC attorneys, the index has not been updated since 1998. In early 2001, EEOC released a paper printout of the index following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

EEOC recently supplied an electronic copy of their brief bank index, but not without a hiccup.

At first, EEOC decided to withhold large portions of the index under the b2 and b5 exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act. As a basis for this withholding, they planned to cite the b2 and b5 exemptions, and relied on guidance from the "Ashcroft Memorandum" issued in 2001 encouraging agencies to withhold records wherever justified. Since 2001, these exemptions for internal materials (b2) and deliberative and attorney work product materials (b5) have been popular exemptions for agencies following the Ashcroft Memorandum.

However, when EEOC was shown that it had already released the document in PAPER form and that withholding made no sense, EEOC's FOIA Officer decided to release the electronic copy in full.

Many or most of the documents listed in the index are probably available upon request from EEOC. While some materials might be legitimately withheld by the agency citing attorney work product or deliberative privileges, many (or most) of the documents were filed in court and once filed are now a part of the public record, no longer privileged, and thus would be releasable in their entirety. Some documents could properly be released with certain portions redacted. Any blanket claim by EEOC that none of these documents can be released to the public would be unsound and incorrect.

To obtain copies of any of the legal briefs described in this index, simply send a letter of request, identifying the brief numbers you want, to:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Attn: Stephanie D. Garner
Assistant Legal Counsel/FOIA Officer
1801 L Street, N.W., 6th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20507
telephone number: (202) 663-4640

In your request, you should indicate whether you want an electronic copy or a paper copy of the document. It might also be helpful to include a highlighted or marked copy of the index page where the brief appears

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Last revision: April 03, 2009 06:27 AM
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