University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Bell v. Woodward Governor Co.; EEOC v. Woodward Governor EE-IL-0315
Docket / Court 3:03-cv-50190 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On May 8, 2003, a class action complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e against Defendant Woodward Governor Company, an electronics manufacturer. ... read more >
On May 8, 2003, a class action complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e against Defendant Woodward Governor Company, an electronics manufacturer. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, claimed that the company engaged in unlawful employment practices on the basis of race and maintained a general corporate policy of discrimination against minorities in employment. The class plaintiffs consisted of all African American, Hispanic, and other minorities in two of the company's facilities during the applicable time period; they sought injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief.

More specifically, Plaintiffs argued that less than 3% of Defendant's employees were African American, which is a lower proportion when compared to the population in the area as well as to that of other similar employers in the region. Further, those minorities who were employed were subjected to lower wages, denied promotions, denied training, retaliation for complaining, and a generally hostile work environment filled with racial slurs and stereotypes.

A lengthy discovery battle ensued, beginning around September of 2003 and lasting until the case was resolved in 2006. Plaintiffs' complaint was amended on December 5, 2003, and again on April 26, 2004. The second amended complaint alleged additional claims of gender discrimination against Defendant under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act.

On January 3, 2005, the District Court (Judge Philip Godfrey Reinhard) certified two Plaintiff classes. The first was a "compensation class" consisting of all African American, Hispanic, and Asian employees employed by Defendant during the applicable time period. The second was an "advancement class" consisting of all African American, Hispanic, and Asian employees passed over for unposted promotions during the applicable period.

Subsequently, because these same classes of employees had simultaneously filed a complaint with the EEOC, the EEOC submitted a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on October 4, 2006. The complaint alleged the same unlawful employment practices, and also sought injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief.

After years of negotiation, the parties finally came to a settlement, which was approved by the District Court (Judge Reinhard) on October 5, 2006. The decree consolidated the initial case and the EEOC case and dismissed all claims. Further, the Plaintiff classes were re-categorized. The first class, the "Minority Class," consisted of all African American, Hispanic, and Asian employees and former employees of Defendant who worked at either of the facilities during the applicable time period. The second class was a "Gender Class," consisting of female employees or former employees meeting those same criteria.

The relief granted by the decree was extensive. First, it generally enjoined the Defendants from engaging in any discriminatory policies, practices, or retaliation as barred by Title VII. Further, a settlement fund of $4.8 million (accruing interest for a total of $5 million) for the potential class claimants was established. $2.4 million was to be allocated to the Minority Class and $2.6 million was reserved for the Gender Class. The decree additionally required Defendant to establish a discrimination complaint procedure, as well as to provide mandatory discrimination training for all of its employees and managers. The decree also assigned an industrial psychologist to conduct a thorough analysis of all of the Defendant's job positions. The psychologist was then to establish job descriptions and minimum criteria for each position, followed by a performance review system and compensation review process. Through this system, each employee was to be re-classified and put into an appropriate position. A special master was assigned to enforce the decree, and it was to remain in effect for a period of three and a half years.

The decree, however, did not end the litigation; there have been multiple motions and orders concerning the minutia of enforcing the decree. However, on February 17, 2010 the District Court (Judge Reinhard) determined that the terms of the consent decree had been met, and the case was closed.

Adam Teitelbaum - 03/27/2010


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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
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Provide antidiscrimination training
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Utilize objective job description
Discrimination-area
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Training
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Private Suit Related / Consolidated with EEOC Suit
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Retaliation
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Race
Asian/Pacific Islander
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)
Defendant(s) Woodward Governor Co.
Plaintiff Description All African American, Hispanic, Asian and female employees who worked at the Rockford or Rockville, Illinois facilities on or anytime after May 8, 1999 through the preliminary approval date.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2006 - 2010
Case Closing Year 2010
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)
3:06-cv-50178 (N.D. Ill.) 02/12/2007
EE-IL-0315-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:03−cv−50190 (N.D. Ill.) 02/10/2009
EE-IL-0315-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 05/08/2003
EE-IL-0315-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint 04/26/2004
EE-IL-0315-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order (granting class certification) 01/03/2005 (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0315-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint 10/04/2006
EE-IL-0315-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree 10/05/2006
EE-IL-0315-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Mahoney, P. Michael (N.D. Ill.) [Magistrate]
EE-IL-0315-9000 | EE-IL-0315-9000 | EE-IL-0315-9001
Reinhard, Philip Godfrey (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0315-0002 | EE-IL-0315-0003 | EE-IL-0315-9000 | EE-IL-0315-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Allison, Robert D. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0004 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Bradtke, James G. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0001 | EE-IL-0315-0004 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Cooper, Ronald S. (District of Columbia)
EE-IL-0315-0005
Earle, Peter (Wisconsin)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Elkin, Laurie S (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0004 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Gochanour, Gregory M. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0005 | EE-IL-0315-9000 | EE-IL-0315-9001
Hendrickson, John C. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0005 | EE-IL-0315-9000 | EE-IL-0315-9001
Henry, Ann M. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0005 | EE-IL-0315-9000 | EE-IL-0315-9001
Lambert, Kelly K. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0001 | EE-IL-0315-0004 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Lee, James L. (District of Columbia)
EE-IL-0315-0005
Montgomery, Alex R. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Piers, Matthew J. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Reams, Gwendolyn Young (District of Columbia)
EE-IL-0315-0005
Schneck, Steven Paul (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0004 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Seliger, Stephen G (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0004 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Soule, Jennifer (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-0001 | EE-IL-0315-0002 | EE-IL-0315-0004 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Duffee, Michael W. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Hurka, Thomas F. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Landon, Michelle Luthin (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Lopez, Dax (Georgia)
EE-IL-0315-9000
McKellar, Michele K. (Wyoming)
EE-IL-0315-9000
O'Connell, Robert Michael (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
O'Connell, Laura A. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Rafuse, Nancy E. (Georgia)
EE-IL-0315-0002 | EE-IL-0315-9000
Saulter, Keenan Jakarta (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Schlam, Lawrence (Illinois)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Turner, Daniel E. (Georgia)
EE-IL-0315-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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