Understandably, companies have become more sensitive about protecting confidential, proprietary business information from disclosure to competitors and others outside the company.

A recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Venetian Casino Report v. EEOC, 2006 WL 2806568 (D.D. Cir. 2006), demonstrates that such disclosures may occur in the most unexpected ways. The court’s holding in Venetian makes it clear that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can release sensitive, confidential or proprietary company documents submitted in response to a Charge of Discrimination without first providing notice to the employer that submitted the information. Further, the EEOC is empowered to release these documents not only to the charging party but also to third parties. Employers should be aware of this potential source of disclosure and consider steps to limit inadvertent misuse of company information.