University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Puffer v. Allstate Insurance Company EE-IL-0309
Docket / Court 04-5764 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
In January 2001, a female manager filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Allstate Insurance Company intentionally created and maintained an unequal workforce that injured its female employees. Plaintiff further alleged she was sexually harassed by a ... read more >
In January 2001, a female manager filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Allstate Insurance Company intentionally created and maintained an unequal workforce that injured its female employees. Plaintiff further alleged she was sexually harassed by a supervisor and then passed over for promotion as retaliation for rejecting her supervisor's advances. Plaintiff alleged that Allstate failed to conduct an adequate investigation into those matters.

On September 2, 2004, Plaintiff filed suit, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging that Allstate engaged in systematic discrimination against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Plaintiff was represented by private counsel and asserted that: Allstate violated Title VII by discriminating against her and a class of female managerial employees to such an extent that the gender-based discrimination amounted to a policy or practice; Allstate violated the Equal Pay Act by paying putative class members lower wages than similarly situated male employees; Allstate had retaliated against Plaintiff in violation of both Title VII and the Equal Pay Act.

Plaintiff moved for class certification on behalf of all female managers who had worked at Allstate at any time from May 2001 to the time of her complaint. The District Court denied the motion for class certification because the circumstances of the putative class members' employment were too widely varied, and that plaintiffs' evidence regarding commonality was too weak to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)(2). In response to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, Plaintiff again moved for class certification, focusing her complaint on Allstate's compensation policies. The court concluded that the case would require thousands of individual hearings to determine both liability and damages. The court again denied Plaintiff's motion for class certification, highlighting flaws in Plaintiff's evidence, including the widely varying responsibilities, supervisors, locations and pay grades of the proposed class members. The court also noted that, in employment discrimination cases, there is often no need for class certification because most employees have sufficient financial incentive to litigate individually. The court found the economic loss for members of the putative class would be substantial enough to give each individual an interest in controlling her own lawsuit.

Plaintiff settled her individual claims with Allstate and three intervening plaintiffs appealed the denial of class certification. The intervenors alleged that the district court erred in denying Plaintiff's claim because it did not separately analyze her disparate impact claim from her pattern-or-practice claim. The two claims are different because a disparate impact claim requires a showing that a facially neutral employment practice falls more harshly on one group than another and can't be justified by business necessity, while a pattern-or-practice claim requires a showing that an employer regularly and purposefully discriminated against a protected group. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324 (1977). The Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed the denial of class certification. The court noted that although Plaintiff had used the language of both "disparate impact" and "pattern-or-practice" claims in her second motion for class certification, she only developed her pattern-or-practice claim. Although Plaintiff was no longer a party to the suit, as intervening plaintiffs, the intervenors could only present arguments that Plaintiff could have appealed. Therefore, since Plaintiff did not develop her disparate impact claim, it was not preserved for appeal and it was not error for the district court not to analyze it separately.

Further analysis available at http://www.nsclc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Court-Decisions-from-2009.pdf

Anna Dimon - 01/30/2015
- 01/27/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discipline
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)
Defendant(s) Allstate Insurance Company
Plaintiff Description Female Allstate employee from 1977-2003; sought to establish a class action but was denied. After the original plaintiff settled her case, three intervening plaintiffs continued the case.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
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 n/a
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)
1:04−cv−05764 (N.D. Ill.) 04/18/2012
EE-IL-0309-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 09/02/2004
EE-IL-0309-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order (denying Class Certification) 01/15/2009 (255 F.R.D. 450) (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0309-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 03/12/2009 (614 F.Supp.2d 905) (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0309-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 03/25/2009
EE-IL-0309-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Statement Concerning Notice Issues 04/03/2009 (2009 WL 3369423)
EE-IL-0309-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Dismissal with Prejudice 01/07/2011 (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0309-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 04/18/2012
EE-IL-0309-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion from the USCA for the 7th Circuit 04/18/2012 (675 F.3d 709)
EE-IL-0309-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Flaum, Joel Martin (Seventh Circuit, N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0309-0007 | EE-IL-0309-0008
Gilbert, Jeffrey Court not on record
EE-IL-0309-0006 | EE-IL-0309-9000
Kanne, Michael Stephen (Seventh Circuit, N.D. Ind.)
EE-IL-0309-0003
Manion, Daniel Anthony (Seventh Circuit)
EE-IL-0309-0003
Posner, Richard Allen (Seventh Circuit)
EE-IL-0309-0003
Schenkier, Sidney I. (N.D. Ind.) [Magistrate]
EE-IL-0309-0002 | EE-IL-0309-0004
Shadid, James Edward (C.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0309-0007
Tinder, John Daniel (Seventh Circuit, S.D. Ind.)
EE-IL-0309-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bish, Suzanne Elaine (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Bronte, Patricia Ann (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Friedman, Linda (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-0001 | EE-IL-0309-9000
Glink, Shona B. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-0005 | EE-IL-0309-9000
Lazaro, Rafael Eduardo (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Meites, Thomas R. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Mollica, Paul William (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Mulder, Michael M (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Raimond, Johanna J. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Russell, Richard (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Stowell, Mary (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Wood, James Bryan (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baker, Eileen Elizabeth (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Bloom, Wendy Lynn (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Bulger, Brian Wegg (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Coleman, Khara Aisha Ashanti (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Dutton, Thomas E. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Ehrhart, Kathleen A. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Garry, Paul R. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Godfrey, Richard Cartier (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Perrier, Rachel L. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Rucker, Bredale (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Smylie, Sallie Gamble (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-0005 | EE-IL-0309-9000
Trester, Julie Lynn (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Washington, Khara Coleman (Iowa)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Welch, Donna M. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Wermuth, Anneliese (Illinois)
EE-IL-0309-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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