Yesterday we spoke about the EEOC’s far-reaching investigative subpoena relating to a GINA charge, which appeared to delve into the employer’s systemic, company-wide practices and policies. The employer successfully blocked the subpoena, which a trade group’s “friend of the court” brief called “absurdly broad.”

Another such successful blocking of a far-reaching EEOC investigative subpoena was just brought to our attention. A federal appeals court recently was faced, in EEOC v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad BNSF, with an attempt by the EEOC to enforce a subpoena served in an investigation involving ADA charges brought by two individual employees. However, the EEOC’s subpoena delved into “pattern and practice discrimination” on a nationwide basis, for example, seeking “how [the employer] keeps track of every current and former employee, across the country, since 2006.”

The EEOC contended that “a single allegation of discrimination may warrant a pattern or practice investigation,” but the court was “not convinced.” The court, calling the request for information “incredibly broad,” held that “The EEOC is entitled only to evidence that is ‘relevant to the charge[s] under investigation’” and that “nationwide recordkeeping data is not ‘relevant to’ charges of individual disability discrimination filed by two men who applied for the same type of job in the same state.”