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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Ellis v. Costco EE-CA-0302
Docket / Court 3:04-cv-03341 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Attorney Organization Impact Fund
Case Summary
On August 17, 2004, a female employee filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. section 2000e, and the Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Government Code section 12940, against Costco Wholesale Corporation in United States District Court in the Northern District ... read more >
On August 17, 2004, a female employee filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. section 2000e, and the Fair Employment and Housing Act, California Government Code section 12940, against Costco Wholesale Corporation in United States District Court in the Northern District of California. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages, alleging that Costco discriminated against her and other similarly situated females. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that Costco's management discriminates against women in promotions and that the defendant retaliated against the plaintiff. Ellis v. Costco, 372 F.Supp.2d 533 (N.D.C.A. 2005).

The original plaintiff filed the suit by herself, but was soon allowed to add two more plaintiffs as the case progressed. These named plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, charged that Costco's managerial promotion methods had a pattern and practice of gender discrimination, and disparate impact on women. Ellis v. Costco, 240 F.R.D. 634 (N.D.C.A. 2007). Because the defendant's failure to post or by any alternative means notify employees of specific promotion opportunities, female employees were unable to apply for promotions. Ellis v. Costco, 372 F.Supp.2d 533 (N.D.C.A. 2005). This practice, in combination with a promotion methodology that was subjective, arbitrary, and gender-based decision making by a nearly all-male managerial force, lead the plaintiffs to file suit. Ellis v. Costco, 240 F.R.D. 235 (N.D.C.A. 2007). Furthermore, upon filing with the EEOC and in Court, some plaintiffs were allegedly retaliated against by the employer. Ellis v. Costco, 240 F.R.D. 632 (N.D.C.A. 2007).

On January 11, 2007, the Court (Judge Patel) ruled on several motions, the most important of which, granting class certification. The Court certified a class of all current and former female Costco employees nationwide who have been denied promotion to General Manager or Assistant General Manager or denied promotion to Senior Staff positions since January 3, 2002. Ellis v. Costco, 240 F.R.D. 652 (N.D.C.A. 2007). The Court did not certify the plaintiffs claims over FEHA, only those made under Title VII. Ellis v. Costco, 240 F.R.D. 633 (N.D.C.A. 2007). With the certification, the Court granted an opt out opportunity to be provided in the class notice. The Court granted the class certification for the claims of damages and injunctive relief. Ellis v. Costco, 240 F.R.D. 644 (N.D.C.A. 2007).

According to the docket, the defendants have appealed the Court's (Judge Patel) decision, and the case is currently being stayed until this appeal is heard by the United States Court of Appeals of the 7th Circuit. The case is being held in abeyance pending reolution of Dukes v. Walmart, currently awaiting a decision on defendant's petition for a writ of cert. to the Supreme Court.

Matthew Aibel - 05/04/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Pattern or Practice
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e
Defendant(s) Costco Wholesale Corporation
Plaintiff Description The class consists of all current and former female Costco employees nationwide who have been denied promotion to GM or AGM or denied promotion to Senior Staff positions since January 3, 2002.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Impact Fund
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
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 ]

Docket(s)
Case 3:04-cv-03341-MHP (N.D. Cal.) 10/15/2012
EE-CA-0302-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order 12/22/2004 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint 03/23/2005
EE-CA-0302-0001.pdf | Detail
Order denying defendant's motion to move case to different court 05/31/2005 (372 F.Supp.2d 530) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Stipulation and (Proposed) Order Regarding Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Declaration Submitted by Costco 10/27/2006 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum & Order 01/10/2007 (240 F.R.D. 627) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 09/16/2011 (657 F.3d 970)
EE-CA-0302-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and Denying Defendant's Motion to Eliminate Class Claim 09/25/2012 (285 F.R.D. 492) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement] 02/10/2014 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion for Settlement] 05/27/2014 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Dismissing Case] 07/28/2015 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chen, Edward Milton (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
EE-CA-0302-0006 | EE-CA-0302-0009 | EE-CA-0302-0010 | EE-CA-0302-0011 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Clifton, Richard R. (Ninth Circuit)
EE-CA-0302-0005
Gould, Ronald Murray (Ninth Circuit)
EE-CA-0302-0005
Patel, Marilyn Hall (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0302-0002 | EE-CA-0302-0004 | EE-CA-0302-0007 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Smith, Norman Randy (Ninth Circuit)
EE-CA-0302-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Campins, Julia (California)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Dermody, Kelly M. (California)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Finberg, James M. (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Hazam, Lexi Joy (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Hutchinson, Daniel M. (California)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Kramer, Karin A. (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Larkin, Jocelyn Dion (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Lawrence, Elizabeth A. (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Nako, Lindsay Elizabeth (California)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Sekhon, Nirej S. (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Seligman, Brad (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-0003 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Stemerman, Steven L. (California)
EE-CA-0302-0001 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kadue, David D. (California)
EE-CA-0302-0003 | EE-CA-0302-9000
Kampf, William Owen (California)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Maatman, Gerald L Jr. (Illinois)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Ross, David Bennet (New York)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Wybenga, Thomas J. (Washington)
EE-CA-0302-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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