University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Taylor v. D.C. Water & Sewer Authority EE-DC-0032
Docket / Court 1:01-cv-00561 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On March 16, 2001, an African-American employee of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority ("WASA") filed this class action lawsuit against WASA on behalf of himself as well as current and former black employees under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in the U.S. District Court for the ... read more >
On March 16, 2001, an African-American employee of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority ("WASA") filed this class action lawsuit against WASA on behalf of himself as well as current and former black employees under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory damages, claiming that the defendant engaged in race discrimination through its hiring and promotion practices. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that in 1996 the defendant adopted an at-will employment system that allowed managers to hire or promote their chosen candidates or to inflate those candidates' scores. With this new system in place, the plaintiff claimed that African-American employees encountered a "glass ceiling" that prevented them from obtaining the same positions as similarly situated white employees and from advancing as rapidly as those employees. The plaintiff alleged in particular that black employees were hired at the lowest levels of the agency, were forced to wait longer than white employees for promotions, and were often skipped over for promotions in favor of equally experienced white employees. The plaintiff sought to certify a class consisting of all African-American employees who applied for and were denied positions or promotions at WASA from October 1996 through December 2000.

The defendant moved to dismiss the case on May 21, 2001, claiming that because the plaintiffs requested compensatory damages and a jury trial in addition to injunctive relief, they could not, as a matter of law, satisfy the requirements for class certification under FRCP 23(b). The District Court (Judge Henry H. Kennedy) denied the motion, explaining that the D.C. Circuit had adopted an "ad-hoc approach" to the issue and that the case law did not regard compensatory damages claims or a request for a jury trial as per se incompatible with class certification under 23(b). Taylor v. Dist. of Columbia Water & Sewer Auth., 205 F.R.D. 43, 51-52 (D.D.C. 2002).

The parties then engaged in a lengthy discovery battle. On March 13, 2007, the District Court (Judge Kennedy) certified the class as to liability under FRCP 23(b) for injunctive and declaratory relief, but it postponed any certification as to damages. Taylor v. Dist. of Columbia Water & Sewer Auth., 241 F.R.D. 33, 48 (D.D.C. 2007). The defendant appealed this ruling, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Judge Karen L. Henderson) denied the petition as untimely on April 3, 2009. In re D.C. Water & Sewer Auth., 561 F.3d 494 (D.C. Cir. 2009).

The plaintiffs moved to enlarge the class period on November 14, 2007, and the District Court (Judge Kennedy) denied this motion in an unpublished order on February 7, 2008. The parties then continued disputing the class composition and notice procedures until August 25, 2009, when the District Court (Judge Kennedy) acceded to the parties' request and issued a stipulation and order approving the class notice and directing issuance of the notice to class members.

On November 30, 2010, at the parties' request, the District Court (Judge Kennedy) issued an order referring the case for alternative dispute resolution. The parties eventually reached an agreement and submitted a proposed settlement for approval on March 23, 2013.

The District Court (Judge Barbara J. Rothstein) issued an order, on March 28, 2013, approving the class settlement. The Court announced that, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), it was vacating the class certification under FRCP 23(b)(2) and recertifying the class under 23(b)(3). The approved class had 1,037 members, consisting of all African-American employees who worked for the defendant between October 1, 1996, and December 31, 2000.

Under the terms of the agreement, WASA transmitted $2,885,000 to a claims administrator, with $1.9 million set aside for the payment of claims and the remaining funds to be used for attorneys' fees, litigation costs, and a service award to the lead plaintiff. The settlement also included substantial non-monetary relief. Under the agreement, WASA is forbidden from retaliating against any class members for their involvement in the litigation, and it must provide employees with a written statement of its commitment to equal employment opportunity and post a copy of this policy in common areas of the workplace. WASA must also conduct a mandatory diversity and equal employment opportunity training for all employees and take measures to ensure that employees understand their obligations to identify and report violations of the policies. WASA further agreed to develop and implement complaint procedures and a complaint tracking system, as well as a voluntary affirmative action program. A settlement compliance monitor will oversee and report on WASA's implementation of the agreement, and WASA agreed to submit reports for the monitor's review. Finally, WASA agreed to create an internal implementation team as well as institute an annual review of pay and data practices to ensure that any racial disparities in pay are due to legitimate and non-discriminatory factors.

On March 16, 2015, the District Court (Judge Rothstein), after receiving a letter from class members who claimed that they had not yet been paid their monetary award, issued an order requiring the parties to provide a status report. Plaintiffs' counsel responded on March 18 and explained that there had been a delay because WASA inadvertently omitted several people from the list of eligible class members it prepared for the claims administrator. Further compounding this delay, plaintiffs' counsel stated that his co-counsel has been preparing a motion to advise the court on how the administrator calculated the payouts to individual class members. The money will not be disbursed until this motion is filed.

As of March 19, 2015, there has been no further activity in this docket.

Eric Weiler - 08/03/2010
Brian Tengel - 03/15/2015

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Retaliation Prohibition
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Sanitation/Public Works
Race discrimination
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
42 U.S.C. § 1981
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
Plaintiff Description All African-American employees who sought and were denied positions or promotions at the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority from October 1996 through December 2000.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2013 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
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 ]

1:01-cv-00561-hhk (D.D.C.) 03/18/2015
EE-DC-0032-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion [Denying Defendant's Motion To Dismiss] 01/02/2002 (205 F.R.D. 43) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0032-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Plaintiff's Combined Motion for TRO and Preliminary Injunction 04/02/2004
EE-DC-0032-0001 PDF | Detail
WASA's Amended Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for a TRO and Preliminary Injunction 04/06/2004
EE-DC-0032-0002 PDF | Detail
[Plaintiff's] Expert Affidavit 05/25/2005 (2005 WL 5958160)
EE-DC-0032-0004 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Defendant's Expert's Report In Response To Plaintiff's Expert's Affidavit] 09/16/2005 (2005 WL 6441138)
EE-DC-0032-0005 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion And Order [Partially Certifying Class For Injunctive And Declaratory Relief] 03/13/2007 (241 F.R.D. 33) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0032-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Third Amended Complaint 11/13/2007
EE-DC-0032-0003 PDF | Detail
Order [Denying Petition For Writ Of Mandamus Based On Previous Opinion Denying Defendant's Appeal As Untimely] 04/03/2009 (2009 U.S.App.LEXIS 7137)
EE-DC-0032-0009 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Opinion [Denying Defendant's Interlocutory Appeal of District Court Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion To Certify Class] 04/03/2009 (561 F.3d 494)
EE-DC-0032-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Memorandum Order [Denying Plaintiff's Motion To Compel] 04/22/2010 (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0032-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 08/24/2012
EE-DC-0032-0012 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Consent Motion for Final Approval of the Settlement Agreement, and for Other Relief 03/23/2013
EE-DC-0032-0011 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Final Approval of the Class Settlement 03/28/2013 (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0032-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Henderson, Karen LeCraft (D.C. Circuit, D.S.C.)
EE-DC-0032-0009 | EE-DC-0032-0010
Kay, Alan (D.D.C.) [Magistrate]
EE-DC-0032-0006 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Kennedy, Henry Harold Jr. (D.D.C.) [Magistrate]
EE-DC-0032-0001 | EE-DC-0032-0002 | EE-DC-0032-0007 | EE-DC-0032-0008 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Randolph, Arthur Raymond (D.C. Circuit)
EE-DC-0032-0009 | EE-DC-0032-0010
Rothstein, Barbara Jacobs (W.D. Wash.)
Tatel, David S. (D.C. Circuit)
EE-DC-0032-0009 | EE-DC-0032-0010
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Branch, David A (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0001 | EE-DC-0032-0003 | EE-DC-0032-0007 | EE-DC-0032-0008 | EE-DC-0032-0009 | EE-DC-0032-0012 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Hillary, Alexander G. II (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0001 | EE-DC-0032-0010 | EE-DC-0032-0011 | EE-DC-0032-0012 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Doyle, William Edward (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0009 | EE-DC-0032-0010 | EE-DC-0032-0012 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Gray, Karen Ellen (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0008 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Ho, Allyson N. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0009 | EE-DC-0032-0010
Nagle, Mark Earl (District of Columbia)
Perkins, Julia H (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0002 | EE-DC-0032-0007 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Pivec, Mary E (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0002 | EE-DC-0032-0007 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Speights, Grace E (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0008 | EE-DC-0032-0009 | EE-DC-0032-0010 | EE-DC-0032-0012 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Uribe, Diana M. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0032-0012 | EE-DC-0032-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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