University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Berger v. Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen EE-DC-0039
Docket / Court 1:75-cv-01743-JGP ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On October 21, 1975, eight black rodmen filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (the Civil Rights Act of 1866) against Local 201 of the Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen union in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. On November 28, 1975, the complaint was amended to allege ... read more >
On October 21, 1975, eight black rodmen filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (the Civil Rights Act of 1866) against Local 201 of the Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen union in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. On November 28, 1975, the complaint was amended to allege violations of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive relief, back pay, and attorneys' fees, alleging that Local 201 illegally discriminated against them by either denying or delaying union membership based on race. The plaintiffs filed the action on behalf of a class which was certified on July 27, 1976 and consisted of (1) all black persons who sought membership in Local 201 or admission into the union's Apprenticeship Program, and (2) all black persons who were referred for employment by Local 201 or who applied to Local 201 for referral for employment and who may have been discouraged from applying for membership.

The Court (Judge John G. Penn) bifurcated the trial into two hearings: one on liability and one on damages. On June 7, 1985, the Court held Local 201 liable and ordered various forms of injunctive relief. The judgment was appealed, and on April 5, 1988, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the District Court's judgment.

The Court of Appeals held that the District Court erred by: (1) finding that the defendants had engaged in unlawful retaliation against four of the plaintiffs, (2) allowing the plaintiff class to challenge the high school diploma requirement of the Apprenticeship Program without a suitable class representative, (3) enjoining Local 201 from disciplining members who fail to pay a duly authorized assessment as well as requiring Local 201 to return those assessments to the plaintiffs, and (4) ordering Local 201 to admit into membership those plaintiffs having at least 6,000 hours of rodman experience without first requiring them to pass the Journeyman Exam.

However, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's holding that (1) by requiring that applicants for union membership complete a Union-supervised educational program, Local 201 discriminated against the class in violation of Title VII and Section 1981, and (2) Local 201 engaged in unlawful retaliation against one of the plaintiffs. The Court of Appeals also held that the District Court's remedial order, with the exceptions noted above, was within the Court's discretion, including its demand that Local 201 allow class members who have 3,000 hours of experience to take the Journeyman Exam regardless of whether they have completed class training.

On April 14, 1994, the District Court issued its Report of Special Master (Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Attridge), providing for the damages that Local 201 was to pay the plaintiffs. On January 3, 1997, the District Court entered an Order of Judgment against the defendants and in favor of the plaintiffs. Like the District Court's decision concerning liability, this decision was also appealed. On March 30, 1999, the Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the District Court's decision.

While on remand, the two sides reached a settlement agreement concerning damages, which was approved by the court on December 8, 1999. The agreement resulted in approximately one million dollars in damages. The case is now closed.

Jordan Rossen - 08/20/2010

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Content of Injunction
Retaliation Prohibition
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Race discrimination
Disparate Impact
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) Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen, Local 201
Plaintiff Description A class of black rodmen, a type of construction worker, whose union membership was either denied or delayed due to race.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1999
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

1:75-cv-01743 (D.D.C.) 02/23/2006
EE-DC-0039-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order (granting defendant's motion for restraining order) 08/17/1981 (1981 WL 2424) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0039-0001 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion (ruling in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants as to liability) 06/07/1985 (1985 WL 56631) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0039-0006 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion (reversing in part and affirming in part district court decision as to liability) 04/05/1988 (843 F.2d 1395)
EE-DC-0039-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Report of Special Master (as to damages) 04/14/1994 (1994 WL 151292)
EE-DC-0039-0005 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion (reversing in part and affirming in part district court decision as to damages) 03/30/1999 (170 F.3d 1111)
EE-DC-0039-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Settlement Agreement (as to damages) 12/08/1999 (1999 WL 34870222)
EE-DC-0039-0002 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Attridge, Patrick J. (D.D.C.) [Magistrate]
Edwards, Harry Thomas (D.C. Circuit)
Garland, Merrick B. (D.C. Circuit)
Ginsburg, Douglas Howard (D.C. Circuit)
Penn, John Garrett (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0039-0001 | EE-DC-0039-0005 | EE-DC-0039-0006 | EE-DC-0039-9000
Sentelle, David Bryan (D.C. Circuit, W.D.N.C.)
Silberman, Laurence Hirsch (FISCR, D.C. Circuit)
Starr, Kenneth Winston (D.C. Circuit)
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boggs, Roderic Van Oesen (District of Columbia)
Dellinger, Hampton (North Carolina)
Devaney, John M. (District of Columbia)
Dienelt, John (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0039-0002 | EE-DC-0039-9000
Hilmer, Tracy (District of Columbia)
Killion, Christopher (District of Columbia)
Lamb, Deborah (District of Columbia)
Oberdorfer, John L. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0039-0002 | EE-DC-0039-9000
Reid, Inez (District of Columbia)
Sellers, Joseph Marc (District of Columbia)
Warin, Roger E (District of Columbia)
Yoerges, Roger William (District of Columbia)
Defendant's Lawyers Benson, Sandra Rae (California)
Bourg, Victor (California)
Gold, Laurence E. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0039-0002 | EE-DC-0039-9000
Moscowitz, Ellyn (California)
Roger, Michael B (California)
EE-DC-0039-0002 | EE-DC-0039-9000
Tedrow, Sally (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0039-0002 | EE-DC-0039-9000
Other Lawyers Anderson, William (District of Columbia)
Barrett, St. John (District of Columbia)
Berger, Alfonzia (District of Columbia)
Buchanan, Avis E. (District of Columbia)
Dailard, Scott (District of Columbia)
Duncan, Robert Bruce (District of Columbia)
Farber, David (District of Columbia)
James, Edgar (District of Columbia)
Killion, Diane (District of Columbia)
Kracov, Daniel Adam (District of Columbia)
Mangel, Douglas (District of Columbia)
Martin, Mark Edward (District of Columbia)
Romano, Salvatore (District of Columbia)
Rothell, Bonnie (District of Columbia)
Rubenstein, Samuel (District of Columbia)
Schlegel, Richard (District of Columbia)
Treanor, James A (District of Columbia)

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