Indiana Copyright Law: Court Orders SVT to Provide Video to EEOC Despite Copyright Concerns

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Hammond, IndianaMagistrate Judge Paul R. Cherry of the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, ordered SVT, LLC d/b/a Ultra Foods (“SVT”) to produce a copyrighted training video to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in ongoing gender-discrimination litigation.

In 2010, Tiffany Swagerty was rejected from a position as a night crew stocker at SVT’s Ultra Foods operation in Merrillville, Indiana. She complained to the EEOC contending that SVT’s hiring manager had told her that women that were not usually hired for night positions. The subsequent investigation by the EEOC corroborated Swagerty’s assertions. The EEOC later sued SVT for violations of Title VII seeking injunctive relief and, on behalf of Swagerty and other similarly rejected female applicants, monetary damages.

In this current opinion in the matter of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. SVT, LLC d/b/a Ultra Foods, the court ruled on several discovery disputes between the parties. Among those issues was whether SVT must produce to the EEOC copies of a copyrighted “stocking video” or whether, in order to obtain a copy, the EEOC must bear a portion of the cost of the materials.

Specifically, as part of its discovery requests, the EEOC asked SVT to provide “all documents containing job descriptions for all stocker positions … including hiring criteria, requirements, and responsibilities created.” SVT objected to providing one piece of responsive material – a stocking DVD that was shown to overnight stockers during orientation – on copyright grounds. SVT stated that, while it had made “in-house copies” of the video, it would not be able to produce a copy of the materials to the EEOC and that it would cost $700 for the EEOC to order and purchase a set of the DVDs. Instead of providing the DVD, SVT offered to have counsel for the EEOC either share in the cost of the DVDs or, in the alternative, to view the DVDs at counsel for SVT’s office during the breaks of depositions. EEOC refused this offer and filed a motion to compel the production of the video.

The court was not persuaded that either of SVT’s proposals was sufficient. The court stated instead that SVT had offered an “unclear … explanation of when and how it obtained the original and/or copies of the DVDs, the nature and extent of any copyright that might exist, and what the costs … were expended for.” Consequently, the court granted the EEOC’s motion to compel, holding that SVT had “not met its burden of demonstrating that the cost of this discovery should be shifted” and ordered SVT to produce the copyrighted material to the EEOC without cost to the EEOC.

Opinion and Order

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