Center for Empirical Research in the Law Faculty Launch Online Database of 2,300 EEOC Cases

Thanks to a multi-year effort of researchers at the law school’s Center for Empirical Research in the Law (CERL), critical data for more than 2,300 federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cases are now available online (http://eeoclitigation.wustl.edu). The EEOC Litigation Project, which spans the period between 1997 and 2006, makes readily available detailed information about the EEOC’s enforcement litigation to legal scholars, social scientists, and policy-makers.

The EEOC Litigation Project is the brainchild of Pauline Kim, the Charles Nagel Professor of Law; Andrew Martin, vice dean, professor of law and of political science, and CERL director; and Margo Schlanger, professor of law at the University of Michigan. The project provides in-depth information about the participants, motions, events, and outcomes in the EEOC’s enforcement litigation over a 10-year period.

“We chose to focus on the EEOC because of its important role in enforcing anti-discrimination laws among private employers and because litigation is a primary enforcement tool for the EEOC,” Kim said.

Martin added that the project is ideal for empirical research studies. “The EEOC Litigation Project allows for sophisticated research into litigation dynamics and the interaction between litigants and judicial decision-making,” he said.

The database contains all types of court decisions—published and unpublished, final and non-final, written and summary—as well as all types of outcomes—default, settlement, pretrial adjudication, and judgment after trial.

To build the database, Kim, Martin, and Schlanger obtained a list of all federal court cases brought by the EEOC on behalf of individual complainants between 1997 and 2006. They then selected a stratified random sample of cases to be included in the study and used district court docket numbers to search the federal court system’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) for details about each case. This data collection effort was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Law and Social Sciences division. 

The EEOC Litigation Project captures data on the allegations in the complaint, the presiding judge or judges, the attorneys, and the amount of monetary and non-monetary relief the EEOC sought and obtained. It also tracks information on the litigation events (e.g., motions, discovery disputes, and court orders) that occurred in each case prior to resolution as well as coding for the form of resolution in the case (e.g., default, withdrawal, pretrial, and trial adjudications). The database’s sophisticated organizational scheme and coding system will permit in-depth analysis of the EEOC’s litigation activities to help answer a variety of research questions.

“The EEOC Litigation Project makes it possible to study the EEOC’s enforcement activities in a systematic and rigorous way,” said Kim. “It is just one more way the law school is using technology to stay on the cutting-edge of scholarship.”