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Case Name United States of America v. Municipio De Vega Alta EE-PR-0014
Docket / Court 06-1302 ( D.P.R. )
State/Territory Puerto Rico
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On March 21, 2006, the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico against Municipio de Vega Alta (Municipality of Vega Alta). The D.O.J. asked the court for ... read more >
On March 21, 2006, the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico against Municipio de Vega Alta (Municipality of Vega Alta). The D.O.J. asked the court for injunctive relief, alleging that the defendant had violated Title VII, through its agency the Municipal Police, by discriminating against female officers on the basis of sex and by retaliating against a male officer for cooperating with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") with its investigation of the discrimination against female officers.

The complaint alleges that the Municipal Police discriminated on the basis of sex by: (1) excluding female officers from supervisory duties, regular shift work, driving patrol cars and other vehicles, and conducting investigations commensurate with their experience; (2) assigning female officers to clerical duties; and (3) failing or refusing to take appropriate action to remedy the effects of the discriminatory treatment. The complaint further alleges that the Municipal Police retaliated against a male officer for his participation in the EEOC investigation of sex discrimination by: (1) excluding him from supervisory duties in a desirable area; (2) transferring him out of the desirable area; (3) denying him the opportunity to participate in relevant training sessions; (4) threatening him with suspension or termination; (5) denying him a letter of reference for employment with another municipality; and (6) failing or refusing to take appropriate action to remedy the effects of the retaliatory treatment.

The individual employees sought to intervene as plaintiffs. In the intervenor's complaint, the employees named as defendants the municipality as well as the mayor and the commissioner of police. The plaintiffs sought relief under Title VII for sex discrimination and retaliation and also sought relief under several local laws. The defendants moved the court to dismiss the intervenor complaint arguing that it had not been filed within the requisite ninety (90) day period following the receipt of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. The mayor and the commissioner of police moved the court to dismiss the complaint arguing that as individuals, they could not be sued under Title VII. On May 15, 2007, the District Court for the District of Puerto Rico (Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez) granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motion to dismiss. The court dismissed the Title VII retaliation claims on the grounds that the plaintiff's had failed to file within the requisite ninety day period. The court declined to dismiss the Title VII sex discrimination claims on the grounds that the plaintiffs have an unqualified right to intervene in a suit brought on their behalf. All Title VII claims against the mayor and the commissioner of police were dismissed on the grounds that there is no individual liability under Title VII.

On September 4, 2007, the parties submitted a motion to enter a consent decree, which was granted on September 10, 2007. Under the decree, parties made no admissions. With respect to four individual plaintiff-intervenors, the decree provided for monetary relief of varying amounts as damages and attorney's fees (adding up to $225,000.00). The defendant agreed to expunge their employment records of negative references, and in the case of one plaintiff, to provide neutral references. The plaintiffs in exchange released all of their claims.

The decree also contained general injunctions on the following: 1) prohibition of gender discrimination with respect to compensation, terms and conditions of employment; 2) prohibition on retaliation. The defendant agreed to implement a clearly described complaints procedure with multiple and accessible venues with following features: 1) protection of confidentiality of complainants; 2) prompt, thorough, impartial investigation of gender discrimination complaints; 3) prompt actions, if discrimination or retaliation occurred; 4) distribution of the new policies and procedures. The municipality also agreed to provide training on gender discrimination and retaliation to all supervisors, lasting at least three hours. The United States retained a right to monitor compliance at any point. The Court retained jurisdiction over the implementation of the decree for three years. The decree would dissolve after 3 years without additional orders from the Court.

Kaitlin Corkran - 08/29/2007
Zhandos Kuderin - 07/17/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Expungement of Employment Record
Neutral/Positive Reference
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reasonable Accommodation
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-area
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Training
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Municipio de Vega Alta (Municipality of Vega Alta)
Plaintiff Description United States on behalf of female employees of the municipality and the individual employees as Intervenor Plaintiffs
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2007 - 2010
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing Unknown
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:06-cv-01302 (D.P.R.) 09/10/2007
EE-PR-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 03/21/2006
EE-PR-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Answer 06/13/2006
EE-PR-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Intervenor Complaint 07/19/2006
EE-PR-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Partial Answer to Intervenor Complaint 01/22/2007
EE-PR-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order denying Defendant's motion to dismiss 05/15/2007 (244 F.R.D. 118) (D.P.R.)
EE-PR-0014-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Answer to Intervenor Complaint 07/10/2007
EE-PR-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree 09/06/2007 (D.P.R.)
EE-PR-0014-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Perez-Gimenez, Juan Manuel (D.P.R.) [Magistrate]
EE-PR-0014-0006 | EE-PR-0014-0008 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chardon, Torre (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0006 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Fenton, William B. (District of Columbia)
EE-PR-0014-0001 | EE-PR-0014-0008
Garcia, H. S. (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0001
Gonzalez-Munoz, Juan R. (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0003 | EE-PR-0014-0008 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)
EE-PR-0014-0001 | EE-PR-0014-0008
Munoz-Acosta, Isabelle (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0001 | EE-PR-0014-0006 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Palmer, David J. (District of Columbia)
EE-PR-0014-0008
Rios-Gandara, Maria H (District of Columbia)
EE-PR-0014-0001 | EE-PR-0014-0006 | EE-PR-0014-0008 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Vincens, Vanesa (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0003 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Guillemard-Noble, Andres (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0006 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Guillemard-Noble, Monique (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0002 | EE-PR-0014-0004 | EE-PR-0014-0006 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Marquez-San Martin, Francis A. (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0002 | EE-PR-0014-0004 | EE-PR-0014-0006 | EE-PR-0014-0008 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Quinones-Rodriguez, Anabelle (Puerto Rico)
EE-PR-0014-0005 | EE-PR-0014-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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