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EEOC v. COUNTY OF SAN BENITO

April 14, 1993

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Applicant,
v.
COUNTY OF SAN BENITO, Respondent.


WALKER


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALKER

I.

 This proceeding comes before the court on the application of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("the Commission") for an order enforcing three administrative subpoenas served by the Commission upon respondent, County of San Benito, and awarding costs and attorney's fees incurred by the Commission in bringing this application. The three subpoenas required the County of San Benito to produce documents relevant to the Commission's investigation of three charges of sex discrimination and retaliation filed against the County by Ms. Lani E. Stahl on May 15, 1992, by Mr. Thomas L. Keylon on May 19, 1992 and by Ms. Christie L. Keylon All three plaintiffs are employees of the County of San Benito -- Ms. Lani Stahl and Mr. Thomas Keylon are employed as Deputy Sheriffs and Ms. Christie Keylon is a Court Clerk. Ms. Stahl and Ms. Keylon allege that the County of San Benito violated Title VII by subjecting them to sexual harassment and a hostile working environment. Mr. Keylon filed a charge with the Commission alleging that the County violated Title VII by subjecting him to a hostile work environment. These claims of sexual harassment, subjection to a hostile work environment and retaliation arise from the contention that Mr. Keylon's supervisor, Sergeant Gregg Zazueta, continually made sexual comments to and about Keylon's wife, charging party Christie L. Keylon, and his daughter, charging party Lani E. Stahl. Sergeant Zazueta is a county employee employed by the Sheriff's Department.

 Each of the subpoenas seeks, among other documents, a copy of San Benito County's report recommending disciplinary action against Sergeant Zazueta and the complete personnel records of Sergeant Zazueta, including performance evaluations, counselling memoranda, time and attendance records and awards. The County of San Benito failed to provide the above requested information and failed to object to the requests within the required five-day period. Accordingly, the Commission brings this application for an order to enforce the subpoenas. Having reviewed the papers submitted and considered the arguments of counsel presented at a hearing on February 19, 1993, the court hereby GRANTS the Commission's request for an order enforcing the three subpoenas and DENIES the Commission's request for costs and attorney's fees

 II.

 As a preliminary matter, this court has jurisdiction to enforce the Commission's subpoenas in a summary proceeding. Section 710 of Title VII, 42 USC § 2000e-9, provides that the conduct of Commission investigations, including the resolution of matters pertaining to the Commission's subpoena power, shall be governed by section 11 of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 USC § 161. Section 11(2) of the NLRA confers jurisdiction upon the United States District Courts to enforce subpoenas issued in the course of administrative investigations.

 III.

 The Supreme Court has held that subpoenas issued by administrative agencies may be enforced where the investigation is within the authority of the agency, the demand is not too indefinite, and the information sought is reasonably relevant to the investigation. United States v. Morton Salt Co., 338 U.S. 632, 652, 94 L. Ed. 401, 70 S. Ct. 357 (1950); Endicott Johnson Corp. v. Perkins, 317 U.S. 501, 503, 87 L. Ed. 424, 63 S. Ct. 339 (1943). The County of San Benito does not dispute that the information requested in the three administrative subpoenas is specific, definite and directly relevant to Ms. Lani Stahl's, Mr. Thomas Keylon's and Ms. Christie Keylon's charges of discrimination and/or subjection to a hostile work environment.

 In addition, the County of San Benito does not deny that it failed to file a petition to revoke or modify the subpoenas served upon it within the required five-day response period. The Commission's Procedural Regulations specifically set forth procedures by which Title VII respondents, such as the County of San Benito, can raise objections to a subpoena. 29 CFR § 1601.16(b)(11)(2) 1986. According to the regulation, any petition to revoke or modify the subpoena must be filed within five days of service.

 The only argument respondent advances against enforcing the subpoenas is that state law requires a county to refuse to disclose to the Commission a peace officer's personnel records and information obtained from those records. The County of San Benito cites section 832.7(a) of the California Penal Code, which provides in relevant part:

 
Peace officer personnel records and records maintained by any state or local agency pursuant to Section 832.5, or information obtained from these records, are confidential and shall not be disclosed in any criminal or civil proceeding * * * .

 Penal Code section 832.8 provides in part: "As used in Section 832.7, 'personnel records' means any file maintained under that individual's name by his or her employing agency and containing records relating to any of the following:

 
(a) Personal data, including marital status, family members, educational and employment history, home ...

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