Race Discrimination Class Action Against New York City Settles for $21 million

Employment discrimination cases do not resolve themselves overnight. In 1999, twenty employees of the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation filed complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging discrimination on the basis of race and national origin in both hiring practices and promotion decisions. After approximately nine years of litigation, New York City has agreed to pay more than $21 million to settle what has grown to become a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 3,500 former and current workers.

Beginning in December 2006, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund helped coordinate the effort to reach a settlement with the City. Theodore M. Shaw, of the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, had this to say:

Today’s settlement is a clear victory for those who were denied equality in the workplace for so long. L.D.F. commends the black and Latino workers of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation who stood up to this injustice and had the courage to fight for change.

In reaching such a successful result, the plaintiff’s relied on well-known economist, Dr. Stephen A. Schneider of Nathan Associates, Inc., who testified as an expert witness on the issue of liability and damages.

To read more about the settlement, visit the New York Times article entitled, City Settles Parks Bias Suit for $21 Million.

Race Discrimination Suit Brought Against Clifford Chance and Sullivan & Worcester

Both the law firms of Clifford Chance and Sullivan & Worcester find themselves defending allegation of race discrimination. According to the Wall Street Journal’s law blog, Caroline Memnon, a black Haitian woman, brought suit on March 18, 2008 in the Southern District Court of New York. Memnon claims:

From inception, the CC partners failed to provide me with meaningful work. I was afforded a series of pointless reviews… where those performing the review declared that despite my obvious intelligence the practice of law “was not for someone like me.”

Clifford Chance terminated Memnon in 2002 and, according to Memnon, the firm “surreptitiously ‘blackballed’ [her] within the community of New York law firms.” In early 2007, Memnon began working at Sullivan & Worcester, which terminated her employment just months in March 2007. Sullivan & Worcester is a co-defendant in the suit.

Race Discrimination Settlement Reached Against Walgreen’s

In March 2007, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit alleging that Walgreen’s discriminated against thousands of black workers in hiring and work assignment decisions.

This past week, a federal judge approved a settlement in which Walgreen’s agreed to pay $24 million to compensate approximately 10,000 past and present Walgreen’s employees who suffered racial bias. Attorneys’ fees in the case amounted to approximately $4.5 million. The settlement also requires Walgreen’s to hire outside consultants to review and revise their employment practices.

Job Discrimination Complaints Jump 9%

Workplace discrimination complaints by employees against private employers to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rose by 9% last year, signifying the largest annual increase since the early 1990s. The EEOC reported that complaints increased to 75,768 during the 2006 budget year, up from 75,428 in the previous year. Discrimination complaints based on race, retaliation, and sex were the most common. Below is an overview:

Race discrimination complaints totaled 27,238; about 35.9% of all EEOC filings

Sex discrimination complaints totaled 23,247; about 30.7% of all EEOC filings

Retaliation complaints totaled 22,555; about 29.8% of all EEOC filings

Handicap discrimination complaints totaled 15,625; about 20.6% of all EEOC filings

Age discrimination complaints totaled 13,569; about 17.9% of all EEOC filings

Sexual harassment complaints totaled 12,025; about 15% of all EEOC filings

National origin discrimination complaints totaled 8,327; about 11% of all EEOC filings

Religious discrimination complaints totaled 2,541; about 3.4% of all EEOC filings

(It is not uncommon for employees to suffer more than one type of discrimination, which is why the total exceeds 100%)

Age discrimination and handicap discrimination complaints recorded double-digit percentage increases. Complaints about discrimination based on pregnancy also rose by 14% to 5,587. In 2006, the EEOC was successful in recovering $274 million in compensation for employees reporting discrimination. The Washington Post reported on these figures in an article entitled, Job Discrimination Filings Rise in 2006

Pay Inequality Still Exists: Gender Discrimination Fuels Wage Gap

In 1964, Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act banning workplace discrimination based on, among other things, race and gender. Gender discrimination then, as evidenced through the wage gap, ran rampant. When Title VII was passed, women working full-time made approximately 59 cents to every dollar earned by their full-time working male counterparts. While progress has certainly been made, wage inequality between women and men persists. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, On Diversity, America Isn’t Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is
reveals the current wage gap:

Women, overall, are substantially lagging behind men in pay. Full-time female employees earned 77% of all men’s median wages. Breaking it down in terms of race, Asian-American women earned 78% of the median annual pay of white men; white women earned 73%; black women, 63%; and Hispanic women, 52%.

What can be done to put an end to the wage gap? Dr. Evelyn Murphy, President of The Wage Project, Inc., considered this very question in her book, Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men and What To Do About It.

As Dr. Murphy points out, seeking justice from the legal system is only part of the answer. Getting Even discusses the “pressure triangle,” which involves exerting pressure to end gender discrimination from the bottom up, from the top down, and from the outside in. The bottom up requires employees to document gender discrimination to their bosses and management. The top down requires those in control to respond to wage disparities and make a concerted effort to close the wage gap within their establishment. The outside in requires that we as a society make it socially unacceptable for employers to engage in discriminatory pay practices.

The wage gap will continue to exist if we continue to ignore it.

Race Discrimination Reports to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rose in 2007

Reports of race discrimination rose in 2007. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) registered an increase of 24% from 2006. Complaints rose from 5,646 in 2006 to 6,977 in 2007. In an article entitled, Racial harassment cases rise sharply, USA Today reveals the changing face of race discrimination:

“Nooses are more prevalent,” says EEOC chair Naomi Earp. “The noose has replaced the N-word … as the choice if you want to threaten or intimidate someone.”

As race discrimination continues to rise, so will lawsuits. Last week, Judge Thelton Henderson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily approved Morgan Stanley’s $16 million proposed settlement for a racial-bias class action filed on behalf of 1,200 African-American and Latino brokers. In an article entitled Morgan Stanley $16 Million Race Bias Settlement Gets Prelim OK, CNN Money reported on some of the non-monetary aspects of the settlement:

Morgan Stanley agreed to settle alleged discrimination claims by setting up a $16 million settlement fund and establishing programs to boost diversity in its work force. The firm has agreed to work with industrial psychologists to develop hiring, retention and development initiatives for African-American and Latino financial advisers and broker trainees.

Merrill Lynch & Co., the largest retail brokerage house in the United States, is also facing a similar race discrimination suit from African-American brokers.

Settlement in Race Discrimination Finalized After 37 Years

Judge Robert L. Carter of the Manhattan Federal District Court recently approved a $6.2 million settlement against Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers Union. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the lawsuit 37 years ago in 1971, charging the union with race discrimination for failing to provide equal employment opportunities to nonwhite members. The final settlement compensates 156 Black and Hispanic sheet metal workers for lost wages for the years 1984 to 1991.

Until the late 1940s, the union’s constitution contained a provision excluding nonwhites from its membership. According to the EEOC, the union continued to discriminate. In order to prove discrimination, the EEOC relied, in part, on circumstantial evidence, which appeared powerful in this case. In 1974, for example, minority workers comprised only 3 percent of the union’s membership.

More can be read about the settlement in the New York Times article entitled, Settlement in Bias Suite that Stalled for 37 Years.

The settlement could not come at a better time. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — a day when we can reflect on the progress we have made as a nation while being mindful of the challenges ahead. Below is Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEMXaTktUfA

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Settles Race Discrimination Suits Against Ford & Lockheed Martin

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recorded a significant win in 2007, securing a settlement of about $1.6 million on behalf of a class of nearly 700 African Americans nationwide who suffered race discrimination.

At issue was a written test used by Ford Motor Corp., Visteon Corp., Automotive Components Holdings, and the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) to select job candidates for Ford’s skilled trades apprenticeship program. The test had a disproportionately negative impact on African-Americans.

As part of the settlement, the EEOC was also successful in securing non-monetary relief which, among other things, placed 55 African American test takers into the apprentice program. The settlement complements an earlier suit in 2005 brought by the EEOC against both Ford and the UAW, which was settled for $8.55 million. The most recent suit covers additional job candidates not covered in the 2005 settlement.

On December 3, 2007, the EEOC issued a new Employment Testing Fact Sheet, citing the Ford case.

The EEOC has already experienced similar success in 2008, receiving a landmark settlement of $2.5 million against Lockheed Martin in a race discrimination suit. In that case, a Black aviation electrician was persistently subjected to racial epithets and threatened with bodily harm by his White co-workers during his employment with Lockheed Martin. Click here to read more about the settlement.