Legal Memorandum: Employee’s Right to Intervene in a EEOC Case

Issue: In the Eighth Circuit, does an aggrieved employee have a right to intervene in a case brought by the EEOC?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: EEOC enforcement action; Right to intervene; Employment discrimination
Jurisdiction: Federal, Minnesota
Cited Cases: 499 U.S. 187; 370 F.3d 791; 479 F.3d 561; 511 F.2d 303; 448 F. Supp. 2d 458
Cited Statutes: 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1); Minn. Stat. § 363A.33, subd. 1; Title VII
Date: 08/01/2009

The doctrine of res judicata precludes a party from relitigating a cause of action in a second lawsuit if:

(1)   the earlier claim involved the same set of factual circumstances;

(2)   it involved the same parties or their privies;

(3)   there was a final judgment on the merits; and

(4)   the party against whom the doctrine is asserted had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the matter. 


Brown-Wilbert, Inc. v. Copeland Buhl & Co., 732 N.W.2d 209, 220 (Minn. 2007); Hauschildt v. Beckingham, 686 N.W.2d 829, 840 (Minn. 2004).  Res judicata applies equally to claims that were actually litigated and to claims that could have been litigated in the earlier action.  Brown-Wilbert, 732 N.W.2d at 220. 

Collateral estoppel is related to res judicata, although the latter, also deemed “claim preclusion,” is broader than collateral estoppel—or “issue preclusion”—and applies more generally to a set of circumstances that give rise to entire claims or lawsuits.  Hauschildt, 686 N.W.2d at 837.  Under both doctrines, however, “a right, question or fact distinctly put in issue and directly determined by a court of competent jurisdiction cannot be disputed in a subsequent suit between the same parties or their privies.” Id. (quotations omitted).  Collateral estoppel will be applied to prevent the relitigation of a particular issue when:

(1)   the issue sought to […]

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