University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Hubbard v. Potter EE-DC-0074
Docket / Court 1:03-cv-01062-RJL-JMF ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Equal Employment
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On May 14, 2003, deaf and hard-of-hearing employees of the United States Postal Service, on their own behalf and on behalf of a class of people similarly situated, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Postmaster General of the United States Postal ... read more >
On May 14, 2003, deaf and hard-of-hearing employees of the United States Postal Service, on their own behalf and on behalf of a class of people similarly situated, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service in his official capacity, under The Rehabilitation Act 29 U.S.C. § 791 et. seq. after beginning an action with the EEOC that stalled for about seven months. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, sought declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and attorneys fees.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to provide reasonable accommodations as required by the Rehabilitation Act and thereby caused the plaintiffs and their putative class to suffer harm of frustration, anxiety, fear and distress conditions particularly exacerbated by the anthrax threat in 2001. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendant discriminated against the plaintiffs and their putative class by failing to provide licensed sign language interpreters to its deaf and hard-of-hearing employees during important staff meetings that discussed safety, work place practices, and Postal Service policies.

On May 26, 2004, the District Court (Judge Richard J. Leon) issued an opinion ruling in favor of the defendant's motion to strike the class action portions of the plaintiffs' complaint because the plaintiffs failed to show that their claims were common and typical of their class as required by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a).

During the next six years the parties engaged in various discovery disputes and plaintiffs entered several amended complaints. In 2010, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations and mediation that result in part of a preliminary settlement on December 10, 2010.

On October 24, 2011, the plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion for class certification and court approval of attached Global Settlement Agreement among the parties.

On October 19, 2012, in an order, the District Court (Judge Leon) certified the class for purposes of settlement and granted leave for the plaintiffs to amend their complaint among other things.

In compliance with Judge Leon's order, the plaintiffs filed their third amended class action compliant alleging the defendant failed to provide reasonable accommodations and that failure "impeded [plaintiffs'] ability to perform an essential job function." The plaintiff also added plaintiffs from a parallel action against the defendant then being litigated in front of the EEOC whose added allegations where incorporated into the class definition quoted above.

On July 31, 2013, the District Court (Judge Leon) approved the Global Settlement Agreement that awarded the plaintiffs $4.33 million including $1,550,000 in plaintiff's attorneys fees and expenses, and $3,525,783 in compensatory damages. The Court also approved injunction that, among other things required: the defendant provide alternative means of communication to their deaf and hard of hearing employees for "important workplace communications" upon request; the defendant to create the Postal Service Reasonable Accommodation Assistance Center to monitor provision of reasonable accommodations in the postal service; and both parties to appoint a independent ombudsmen for three years to enforce the agreement. The District Court will retain jurisdiction over disputes arising our of this case, but this approved agreement closed the case.

Brian Kempfer - 11/30/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Neutral/Positive Reference
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reasonable Accommodation
Disability
Hearing impairment
Integrated setting
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Language discrimination
EEOC-centric
No EEOC Final Resolution Type
General
Barrier Removal
Communication skills
Disparate Treatment
Government Services (specify)
Individualized planning
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Pattern or Practice
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
TTY/Close Captioning/etc.
Language
Other
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) United States Postal Service
Plaintiff Description Current and former deaf and hard of hearing employees of the United States Postal Service
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
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 2013 - 2016
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
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 ]

Links Hubbard Class Action Settlement Website
http://www.hubbardsettlement.com/
Posted: Sep. 09, 2013
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:03-cv-1062 (D.D.C.) 07/31/2013
EE-DC-0074-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 05/14/2003
EE-DC-0074-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 05/26/2004 (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0074-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Class Action Complaint 10/21/2011
EE-DC-0074-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Global Settlement Agreement 10/21/2011
EE-DC-0074-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 07/31/2013 (2013 WL 3943495) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0074-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Final Judgment] 07/31/2013 (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0074-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Leon, Richard J. (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0074-0002 | EE-DC-0074-0004 | EE-DC-0074-0005 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Coffin, Shannen W. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Denig, Christopher Michael (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0001 | EE-DC-0074-0003 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Duraiswamy, Shankar (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Flesch, Kevin C. (Colorado)
EE-DC-0074-0003 | EE-DC-0074-0006 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Gardner, Elizabeth Elaine (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0001 | EE-DC-0074-0003 | EE-DC-0074-0006 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Handley, Matthew K. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Huhta, Susan E. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0001
Jones, Phyllis A. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Lang, Lindsey Bishop (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Mathers, Carla M. (Maryland)
EE-DC-0074-0001 | EE-DC-0074-9000
McCollum, James E. Jr. (Maryland)
EE-DC-0074-0001 | EE-DC-0074-0003 | EE-DC-0074-0006 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Palmer, Shaun M. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0001
Shihata, Nadia Ibrahim (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Shipchandler, Shamoil Tamim (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0001 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Williamson, Thomas S. Jr. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0001 | EE-DC-0074-0003 | EE-DC-0074-0006 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Contreras, Rudolph (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0006
Ellis, David B. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0006
Fry, Elisabeth Boyan (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Good, Kathryn A. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0006
Lo, Michelle (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0006 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Machen, Ronald C (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0006
McDaniel, Oliver W. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-9000
Russell, Beverly M (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0074-0006 | EE-DC-0074-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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