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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. SVT, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

April 10, 2014

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
SVT, LLC d/b/a ULTRA FOODS, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL R. CHERRY, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the EEOC's Motion to Compel Agreed-Upon Format of SVT's Discovery Responses [DE 61] and the EEOC's Motion for Leave to File Documents Under Seal [DE 65], both filed by Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on February 20, 2014. Defendant SVT, LLC d/b/a Ultra Foods ("SVT") filed a response on March 17, 2014, and the EEOC filed a reply on April 2, 2014.

1. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(b)(1)(C) provides that a party requesting production of electronically stored information ("ESI") "may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced." Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(1)(C). In addition, Rule 34 sets out procedures to be used for producing ESI:

(i) A party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request;
(ii) If a request does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form or forms; and
(iii) A party need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(E)(ii).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 provides for specific limitations on ESI:

A party need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. On motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the party from whom discovery is sought must show that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause, considering the limitations of Rule 26(b)(2)(C). The court may specify conditions for the discovery.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(B).

2. Background

In the Complaint, the EEOC alleges that SVT, a retail grocer, refused to hire a class of qualified applicants for available night stocker positions because of the applicants' sex (female) and disproportionately hired more males than females, despite receiving applications from qualified females during times that SVT filled available night stocker positions. SVT denies the allegations. The EEOC seeks backpay and prejudgment interest on behalf of the class.

In an August 20, 2013 written correspondence, the EEOC provided SVT with instructions for SVT's production of ESI, titled the "Concordance Load File Specifications, " requesting that (1) documents be produced in near native.Tiff format and (2) spreadsheets and databases be produced in native format. Initially, SVT communicated that it could comply with these format requests. The EEOC served its First Request for Production on September 30, 2013, referencing the August 20, 2013 correspondence and the Concordance Load File Specifications. The EEOC's Request for Production sought applications, screening assessments, interview guides, spreadsheets containing data about applicants and employees, and pay rate information. The parties do not dispute that the ESI sought by the EEOC and at issue in this motion is relevant under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26.

On January 16, 2014, SVT began serving discovery responses. SVT produced spreadsheets in.Tiff format, which was not the native format. SVT produced employment applications in singlepage, non-unitized.pdf and.Tiff format without a load file. In those responses, SVT averred that "[a]ll relevant data has been provided pursuant to industry standards." (Pl. Br., Ex. 3, Cert. ΒΆ 3). At no time prior to the production of documents on January 16, 2014, did SVT discuss with the EEOC any concerns with producing responsive ...


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