Litigation Authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Title VII Suits Against State and Local Governmental Entities

Headnotes: 

In general, the Attorney General has plenary authority over the supervision and conduct of litigation to which the United States is a party. Courts have narrowly construed statutory grants of litigation authority to agencies to permit the exercise of such power only when the authorizing statutes are sufficiently clear and specific to ensure that Congress intended an exception to the general rule.

The litigation authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Corporation (EEOC) is limited by statute to suits brought on behalf of private sector employees. 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-4 to 2000e-6. Furthermore, litigation authority for Title VII “pattern or practice” suits against State and local government entities is specifically vested in the Attorney General.

To permit the EEOC, an executive agency subject to the authority of the President, to represent on its own behalf a position in court independent of or contrary to the position of the United States, would be inconsistent with the constitutional principle of the unitary executive.

Updated July 9, 2014