University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Kosen v. American Express Financial Advisors, Inc. EE-DC-0062
Docket / Court 1:02-cv-00082 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study
Case Summary
On January 17, 2002, a class action suit was brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 ... read more >
On January 17, 2002, a class action suit was brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) et seq. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, were former financial advisors and financial advisor applicants of Defendant American Express Financial Advisors, Inc. and its affiliates ("Amex"); they also represented a class of women similarly situated. Plaintiffs contended that Amex systematically denied women, especially those over the age of forty, equal employment opportunities with respect to hiring financial advisors and promoting them to other more prestigious positions. Plaintiffs sought both injunctive relief and damages.

Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed that the discriminatory practices stemmed from a stereotype pervasive within Amex that only young males could be successful in the financial planning business. This attitude was displayed by Amex in several ways: its failure to hire qualified females as financial advisors; assigning to female financial advisors less favorable lucrative accounts and valuable leads; and providing them less favorable mentoring and training opportunities compared to their male counterparts. For those females in financial advisor positions, this environment often resulted in their failure to meet quotas and subsequent discharge. Further, many of the advisors who complained of the discrimination were allegedly retaliated against with termination.

On January 23, 2002, an extensive consent decree was agreed upon between the parties, who had been negotiating for two years even prior to the filing of the complaint. The decree delineated two classes: (1) All women employed by Amex as financial advisors at any time after December 8, 1998, and (2) All women who applied to work for Amex with and who were rejected for positions as financial advisors at any time after December 8, 1998. The decree granted injunctive relief for both classes, as well as monetary relief for first class. As part of the injunctive relief, Amex was required to employ a "Field Diversity Officer" to enforce the provisions of the decree, as well as to make recommendations on diversity practices. Furthermore, Amex was to conduct annual diversity training for both its financial advisors and employee leaders. The decree also mandated Amex create guidelines addressing diversity for hiring, leads and marketing opportunities, account assignments, promotions, mentoring, and terminations. In regards to monetary relief, Amex was to pay $31 million into a settlement fund. This fund included compensation for named Plaintiffs, as well as for class claimants that applied for an award. The decree included the appointment of a special master to oversee future proceedings, and it was to remain in effect for a period of four years after its court approval.

The District Court (Judge Henry H. Kennedy) preliminarily approved the decree as written on March 20, 2002. The court also preliminarily approved the classes, pending their notification by mail and publication.

On June 16, 2002, the District Court (Judge Kennedy) officially approved the consent decree and certified the classes.

This did not end the litigation, as over several years multiple parties made motions to enforce the decree for the disbursement of funds. The last activity according to the PACER docket was July 15, 2005.

Adam Teitelbaum - 03/24/2010


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Goals and Timekeeping
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
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
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Training
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Retaliation
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)
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq.
Defendant(s) American Express Co.
American Express Financial Advisors, Inc.
American Express Financial Corp.
IDS Financial Services, Inc.
IDS Life Insurance, Inc.
Plaintiff Description All women employed by Defendant or applied to be employed as Financial Advisors at any time between December 8, 1998 and the date of preliminary approval.
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 Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2002 - 2006
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope
Institute for Women's Policy Research
Written: Mar. 01, 2011
By: Ariane Hegewisch, Cynthia Deitch, Evelyn Murphy (Institute for Women's Policy Research & The Wage Project)
Citation: (Institute for Women's Policy Research, March 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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)
1:02−cv−00082 (D.D.C.) 07/15/2005
EE-DC-0062-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 01/17/2002
EE-DC-0062-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree 01/23/2002
EE-DC-0062-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER PRELIMINARILY APPROVING CONSENT DECREE AND DIRECTING NOTICE TO CLASS MEMBERS 03/20/2002
EE-DC-0062-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Consent Decree 06/16/2002
EE-DC-0062-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Kennedy, Henry Harold Jr. (D.D.C.) [Magistrate]
EE-DC-0062-0003 | EE-DC-0062-0004 | EE-DC-0062-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Lieder, Michael D. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0062-0001 | EE-DC-0062-0002 | EE-DC-0062-9000
Miller, Nancy J. (Minnesota)
EE-DC-0062-0002
O'Brien, Maurice W. (Minnesota)
EE-DC-0062-0001 | EE-DC-0062-0002
Schaefer, Lawrence P. (Minnesota)
EE-DC-0062-0001
Sprenger, Paul (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0062-0001 | EE-DC-0062-0002
Sprenger, Steve M (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0062-0001 | EE-DC-0062-0002 | EE-DC-0062-9000
Stokes, Susan E. (Minnesota)
EE-DC-0062-0001
Thompson, Mara R (Minnesota)
EE-DC-0062-0001 | EE-DC-0062-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Bedell, Kevin B. (Virginia)
EE-DC-0062-9000
Magid, Creighton R. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0062-9000
Symchych, Janice M. (Minnesota)
EE-DC-0062-9000
Taylor, Ralph A. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0062-9000
Thoresen, Ahna M. (Minnesota)
EE-DC-0062-9000
Other Lawyers Campbell, Thomas McDonald (New York)
EE-DC-0062-9000
Davenport, Linda (South Carolina)
EE-DC-0062-9000

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