BRINGING DOWN THE HAMMER: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is increasingly bringing more large-scale bias cases against prominent companies.

MAKING A SPLASH: The EEOC, which enforces the nation's workplace antidiscrimination laws, hopes that larger settlements that generate widespread publicity will send a strong message to employers about complying with the law.

HITTING TOO HARD?: Business groups complain the EEOC is overreaching, driving up their legal bills and making their investments riskier. Federal courts also have rapped the commission, saying in particular cases that it overstepped its bounds.