Docket Number: 
No. 16-1535
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
MWELA Amicus by Debra A. D'Agostino
Filing Date: 
August 12, 2016

MWELA respectfully submits this amicus brief to aid this Court in addressing whether it is appropriate for a district court judge to deny a motion brought under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d), and grant summary judgment, in an employment discrimination case brought by a federal employee where no discovery or hearing had been conducted at the administrative level because the employer, a federal agency, compiled an investigative report. The disposition of this issue could have an important effect on the ability of federal employees to enforce their statutory rights to bring discrimination complaints in the federal district courts.

In evaluating a Rule 56(d) motion for discovery before summary judgment, this Court has held that such motions must be granted where the nonmoving party has not had the opportunity to engage in discovery. This principle must apply in cases of employment discrimination regardless of whether the complaint was brought by a federal-sector or private-sector employee.

It is well established that federal-sector employees and private-sector employees are entitled to equal treatment in the federal courts when bringing claims of discrimination, despite that the administrative remedies available to each differ procedurally. In the federal sector, the EEOC’s regulations require federal agencies to conduct an internal investigation into a formal complaint of discrimination and produce a Report of Investigation. The EEOC recognizes that these investigative files are often incomplete and that discovery is required to cure the deficiencies, even at the administrative level.

In this case, Dufau proceeded to federal court without the benefit of any discovery, nor the benefit of an administrative hearing. In cases such as this, the trial judge must evaluate the Rule 56(d) motion on its face, and where, as here, there was no opportunity for depositions or cross examinations, not be influenced because of the mere presence of an agency prepared investigative file in the record.

Is amicus brief

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