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Case Name Cronas v. Willis Group Holdings Ltd. EE-NY-0216
Docket / Court 06-cv-15295 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On December 18, 2006, three female, officer-level, former employees filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all current and former female officers and officer equivalents employed by Willis Holdings Group, Ltd. since 1998. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New ... read more >
On December 18, 2006, three female, officer-level, former employees filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all current and former female officers and officer equivalents employed by Willis Holdings Group, Ltd. since 1998. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VII, the Human Rights Laws of the State and City of New York, and the New York Administrative Code § 8-107 against Willis Holdings, Ltd. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for a permanent injunction prohibiting the company and its employees from engaging in discriminatory practices, back pay and other job benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys' fees, claiming that the company had discriminated against them on the basis of sex. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that Willis Group knew about the existence of a glass ceiling but did nothing to remedy it, had a pattern of paying female employees substantially less than male employees doing similar work, refused to consider female candidates for promotions, steered more business toward male employees, required females to complete a higher volume of work than similarly situated males, scrutinized females more heavily than similarly situated males, and terminated female employees who brought attention to the discrimination.

On September 17, 2007, the Court (Judge Gerard E. Lynch) denied a motion to dismiss filed by the defendants, finding that the plaintiffs had not met the administrative requirements for maintaining a Title VII lawsuit or alternatively, that the plaintiffs' claims were subject to mandatory arbitration.

On July 3, 2008, the plaintiffs submitted an amended complaint containing additional individual allegations for two of the named plaintiffs, neither of whom stated any individual allegations in the initial complaint. The additional allegations reference discriminatory hiring practices, compensation, promotions, and treatment in the workplace.

On November 20, 2008, Judge Lynch granted the defendant's motion to compel arbitration for the individual claims of one of the named plaintiffs and dismissed those claims from the lawsuit, due to a prominent arbitration clause in her employment contract.

On October 18, 2011, Judge Lynch filed a preliminary approval order, certifying, for settlement purposes, a proposed class of women employed in Willis Group's New York office in officer or officer-equivalent positions between 2002 and 2007.

On December 19, 2011, Judge Lynch approved the consent decree. Willis Group agreed to conduct performance evaluations of all its employees based on observable behavior, set forth in writing the criteria on which compensation decisions are made, post vacancies so that all current employees may apply, investigate all discrimination claims made to Human Resources in a timely manner, and submit any changes in policy to a court-approved monitor. In addition, Willis Group agreed to pay $11,595,030.85 to members of the class. The amount included attorneys' fees.

Katherine Reineck - 02/01/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Promotion
Provide antidiscrimination training
Retaliation Prohibition
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Discrimination-area
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
State law
42 U.S.C. § 1981
Defendant(s) Willis Group Holdings, Ltd.
Plaintiff Description Three women who were formerly employed in officer-level positions alleged discrimination based on sex.
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
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2011 - 2014
Case Closing Year 2012
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 ]

Docket(s)
1:06-cv-15295 (S.D.N.Y.) 03/14/2012
EE-NY-0216-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 12/18/2006
EE-NY-0216-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion on Motion to Dismiss 09/17/2007 (2007 WL 2739769) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 07/03/2008
EE-NY-0216-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion on Motion to Enlarge Discovery 10/08/2008 (2008 WL 4548861) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion on Motion to Compel Arbitration 11/20/2008 (2008 WL 4964695) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree 05/06/2011 (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Approval Order 10/18/2011 (2011 WL 5007976) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Decision 12/19/2011 (2011 WL 6778490) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Berman, Richard M. (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0006 | EE-NY-0216-0007 | EE-NY-0216-9000
Freeman, Debra Carol (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
EE-NY-0216-9000
Lynch, Gerard E. (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0216-0002 | EE-NY-0216-0004 | EE-NY-0216-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fink, Rosalind (New York)
EE-NY-0216-0001 | EE-NY-0216-0003 | EE-NY-0216-0006 | EE-NY-0216-0007 | EE-NY-0216-0008 | EE-NY-0216-9000
Herbst, Robert L. (New York)
EE-NY-0216-0001 | EE-NY-0216-0003 | EE-NY-0216-0006 | EE-NY-0216-0007 | EE-NY-0216-0008 | EE-NY-0216-9000
Webber, Christine E. (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0216-0008 | EE-NY-0216-9000
Yakren, Sofia (New York)
EE-NY-0216-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, Jeremy Miller (New Jersey)
EE-NY-0216-9000
Plevan, Bettina Barasch (New York)
EE-NY-0216-0006 | EE-NY-0216-0007 | EE-NY-0216-0008 | EE-NY-0216-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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