A staffing firm named Peoplemark Inc. has been awarded $752,000 in damages over a lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that alleged racial discrimination that it could not prove, and which in fact Peoplemark showed to be the opposite of the truth.

The EEOC went after Peoplemark, claiming that its blanket rejection of applicants with criminal backgrounds disparately impacted Hispanics and African-Americans. In court, however, Peoplemark produced a statistical analysis showing that 22 percent of the 286 people the EEOC claimed had been discriminated against had, in fact, been hired, even with criminal records.

Eventually, both sides agreed to an end to the lawsuit, but Peoplemark wasn't finished. It asked the district court for reimbursement for attorney's fees and other expenses in fighting the charge, stating that the EEOC “deliberately caused Peoplemark unnecessary delay and expense in a very time consuming and complex case.”

The court agreed:

Once the EEOC became aware that its assertion that Peoplemark categorically refused to hire any person with a criminal record was not true, or once the EEOC should have known that, it was unreasonable for the EEOC to continue to litigate on the basis of that claim, thereby driving up defendant’s costs, because it knew it would not be able to prove its case.

The district court's award of $752,000 to Peoplemark was subsequently upheld by the 6th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals.