University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Carter v. West Publishing Co. EE-FL-0144
Docket / Court 97-02537-CIV-T-99A ( M.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
Female employees of West Publishing Company filed a class action in U.S. District Court, alleging that the company issued stock to employees on a discriminatory basis, with a disproportionate amount of male employees owning stock. The employee stock program relied on a secretive and subjective ... read more >
Female employees of West Publishing Company filed a class action in U.S. District Court, alleging that the company issued stock to employees on a discriminatory basis, with a disproportionate amount of male employees owning stock. The employee stock program relied on a secretive and subjective process controlled solely by the CEO's discretion, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Judge Richard A. Lazzara, referrals to Magistrate Judges Mark A. Pizzo and Elizabeth A. Jenkins.) A copy of the complaint is not publicly available. However, according to an opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the plaintiffs filed claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). Carter v. West Publishing Company, 225 F.3d 1258 (11th Cir. 2000).

The plaintiffs alleged that before Thomson Reuters acquired West, the company offered its stock to a select number of employees. Every year, West would issue a number of new shares based on its performance. The CEO would choose 10 to 20 first-time shareholders based on subjective and objective criteria, such as performance and length of service. However, the process of issuing stock was kept secret, as was the identity of employee-shareholders. West discontinued this program shortly before the merger. At the time of the sale to Thomson Reuters, West has 157 male employee-shareholders and only 29 female employee-shareholders. The employee-shareholders profited significantly from the sale to Thomson Reuters. It is unclear what relief the plaintiffs sought.

The main issue at the District Court level was the timeliness of the plaintiffs' complaint. West discontinued issuing employees stock in August 1994 and discontinued issuing dividends in June 1996. The District Court, in an unpublished opinion on May 20, 1999, certified the class nonetheless. Carter v. West Publishing Company, No. 97-2537, 1999 WL376502 (M.D. Fla. 1999). The District Court found that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until June 1996 and that equitable tolling applied. The District Court also denied summary judgment to the defendant in an April 19, 1999 unpublished order. Carter v. West Publishing Company, No. 97-2537, 1999 WL 375901 (M.D. Fla. 1999). However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the District Court, holding that there was no continuing violation and no reason to apply equitable tolling. Thus, the Title VII claims were dismissed as untimely after the Court of Appeals' opinion.

The case was remanded to the District Court, where it continued with the Equal Pay Act claims.

The parties were prepared for trial but settled the remaining claims amicably, as noted in an unpublished order on July 3, 2001. Both parties were to pay their own attorneys' fees. Further details of this resolution are unavailable at present. This is the last entry on the docket.

Eric Weiler - 08/16/2010


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Discrimination-area
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)
Defendant(s) West Publishing Company / Thomson Reuters
Plaintiff Description Female employees of West Publishing Company
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2001
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)
8:97−cv−02537 (M.D. Fla.) 07/03/2001
EE-FL-0144-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order [Certifying Class] 05/20/1999 (1999 WL 376502) (M.D. Fla.)
EE-FL-0144-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
[Opinion And Order Reversing The District Court's Order Certifying The Class, Finding That Equitable Tolling Did Not Apply In This Case] 09/07/2000 (225 F.3d 1258)
EE-FL-0144-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Defendants' Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Their Motion For Summary Judgment 03/15/2001
EE-FL-0144-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [And Order Denying Defendant's Renewed Motion For Summary Judgment Based On Statute of Limitations Violation] 04/19/2001 (1999 WL 375901) (M.D. Fla.)
EE-FL-0144-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Dubina, Joel Fredrick (Eleventh Circuit, M.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
EE-FL-0144-0002
Lazzara, Richard A. (M.D. Fla.)
EE-FL-0144-0003 | EE-FL-0144-0004 | EE-FL-0144-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Burns, Guy M. (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Burr, Charles Gilbert (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Coleman, Jonathan S. (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Doering, Karen M. (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Smith, Sam Jones (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Verde, Stacy Klein (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Alley, John-Edward (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-0001 | EE-FL-0144-9000
Benton, Lori R. (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Bloodgood, Patricia A. (Minnesota)
EE-FL-0144-0001 | EE-FL-0144-9000
Chitwood, Martin D. (Georgia)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Ellingstad, Susan E. (Minnesota)
EE-FL-0144-0001 | EE-FL-0144-9000
Garwood, Thomas C. Jr. (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Harley, Craig G. (Georgia)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Miller, Arthur R. (Massachusetts)
EE-FL-0144-0001 | EE-FL-0144-9000
O'Gorman, Daniel P. (Florida)
EE-FL-0144-9000
Rittinger, James F. (New York)
EE-FL-0144-0001 | EE-FL-0144-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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