February 17, 2021 Articles

Admission of Administrative Agency Documents in a Federal Trial

When responding to arguments concerning the admissibility of documents from an administrative agency, such as the EEOC, be prepared to explain to the court how it should balance the probative value of the documents against the potential prejudicial effect on the defendant.

By Michael R. Lied

A recurring issue for employment lawyers going to trial in a discrimination case is the admissibility of materials resulting from a government investigation, such as a determination letter generated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

By way of background, the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that administrative findings may be admissible in a federal trial as public records under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(8). Astoria Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n v. Solimino, 501 U.S. 104, 110 (1991); Chandler v. Roudebush, 425 U.S. 840, 863 n.39 (1976). Most courts have concluded that it is up to the trial court’s discretion whether to admit such evidence from administrative agencies. E.g., Ponce v. Billington, 679 F.3d 840, 847 (D.C. Cir. 2012).

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