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Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 a party is entitled to discovery, not only of material, which is relevant and admissible at trial, but also of information which appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. More specifically, in Title VII cases, in which a plaintiff alleges discriminatory employment practices, both the United States Supreme Court, and the Second Circuit rule that general information on defendant's labor hierarchy may be reflective of restrictive or exclusionary hiring practices within the contemplation of the statute.
In conjunction with her Title VII gender discrimination action against the employer, the employee sought to discover certain information concerning discrimination at the employer's partnership level. The employer challenged the interrogatories the employee propounded in this regard. The court modified the report of the magistrate by denying discovery as to some of the interrogatories in question. The employee filed a motion for rehearing.
Was the information requested so unrelated to plaintiffs' claim that women are discriminated against by defendant on account of sex that it cannot be said to be "relevant" within the expansive meaning of that term in Rule 26?
On reconsideration, the court directed the employer to answer the interrogatories. The court determined that the narrow inquiry was whether the information requested was so unrelated to the employee's claim that women were discriminated against by the employer on account of sex that it was not "relevant" within the expansive meaning of that term in Fed. R. Civ. P. 26. The court concluded that even if Title VII did not proscribe the use of sex as a criterion for admission to partnership, that legal conclusion did not necessarily indicate that evidence of sexually oriented discrimination at that level was not probative of a similar pattern in the selection of associates, where it would have been illegal.