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Docket / Court 3:00-cv-00680-DRH ( S.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection EEOC Study -- in sample
IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study
Case Summary
This is a quite complex case, connected to two others:

In May 1999, the EEOC filed a lawsuit (EEOC v Rent-A-Center, No 99-2427-TU-V) in Memphis, Tennessee, charging that RAC, when it acquired a competitor named Rentronics, terminated female employees and refused to hire female applicants ... read more >
This is a quite complex case, connected to two others:

In May 1999, the EEOC filed a lawsuit (EEOC v Rent-A-Center, No 99-2427-TU-V) in Memphis, Tennessee, charging that RAC, when it acquired a competitor named Rentronics, terminated female employees and refused to hire female applicants in Tennessee and Arkansas because of their sex.

In 2000, female employees filed two cases. One was in Kansas City (MO), filed by two women who claimed individual bias, and ordered to mandatory arbitration by the judge there. Bunch v. Rent-A-Center, 00-0364-CV-W-3. No class claims were part of the arbitration, which would have ended that case. In addition, in August 2000, 21 female employees, later joined by 6 others, filed a nationwide class action (Wilfong v Rent-A-Center, No 00-680-DRH) in East St. Louis, Illinois, claiming that, after Renters Choice acquired 1,400 RAC stores and assumed the name of RAC, the new RAC systematically eliminated women from its workforce. The class complaint alleged that RAC: got rid of job classifications previously held by women; imposed an unfair weight-lifting requirement; harassed and unfairly disciplined female employees; assigned them cleaning and clerical duties; demoted and failed to promote them; refused to hire them; and either discharged them or forced them to resign.

The EEOC certified that the Illinois case is of general public importance and asked to intervene, which the District Court for the Southern District of Illinois allowed on May 14, 2001. With the support of the EEOC, the Wilfong private plaintiffs moved for certification of their case as a class action on November 1, 2001 and submitted over 300 sworn statements from discrimination victims and witnesses to support their motion.

Just one day before the submission of the class certification motion in the Illinois (Wilfong) case, in the Kansas City (Bunch) case, RAC and the two women submitted a proposed $12.2 million settlement that was designed to dispose of all claims by female employees and applicants all over the country, including those in the EEOC's Illinois and Tennessee cases. The Kansas City case had no class element going into arbitration. It seems that this settlement was entered by the district court, because the next thing we know is that the EEOC filed papers in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals opposing the Bunch class settlement. We don't know what happened to that motion -- whether it was granted, denied, or simply not ruled on. In any event, the parties of all the suits settled all three cases by the entry of a consent decree in the Illinois case in June 2002, which was ultimately approved in October 2002. The decree included non-discrimination and non-retaliation clauses, required the posting and distribution of a written Title VII policy, and required training of all employees on what constitutes sexual discrimination. Rent-A-Center also agreed to comply with hiring criteria, including advertising in venues targeted to female job applicants. The consent decree also called for the creation of the job of Vice President of Human Resources and the creation of a professional Human Resources department. The defendant agreed to provide quarterly reports to a third-party consultant, the class counsel and to the EEOC. The injunctive parts of the decree had a four-year term. In the event of non-compliance, the decree called for a non-court dispute resolution process, including the utilization of a special master, and court enforcement in case of ongoing dispute. In addition, the defendant agreed to pay $47,000,000 to the class, of which over $11,000,000 constituted compensation for fees and costs.

Margo Schlanger - 08/01/2008

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Content of Injunction
Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Goals and Timekeeping
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Provide antidiscrimination training
Retaliation Prohibition
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Utilize objective job description
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Sex discrimination
EEOC intervened in private suit
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e
Defendant(s) Rent A Center, Inc.
Plaintiff Description 21 female employees of Rent A Center, filing on behalf of themeselves and similarly situated individuals, later joined by 6 more female employees and the EEOC
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
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 2002 - 2006
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing EE-TN-0094 : EEOC v. RENT-A-CENTER, INC. (W.D. Tenn.)
EE-MO-0109 : Bunch v. Rent-a-Center, Inc. (W.D. Mo.)
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 ]

3:00-cv-00680-DRH (S.D. Ill.) 11/30/2004
EE-IL-0194-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
EEOC Press Release: "EEOC Seeks to Join Nationwide Sex Discrimination Suit Against Rent-A-Center" 03/12/2001
EE-IL-0194-0005 PDF | Detail
Order [Regarding Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel] 03/14/2001 (2001 WL 35695551 / 2001 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 26074) (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0019 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum and Order denying motion to compel Arbitration 06/28/2001 (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0008 PDF | Detail
Order [Compelling Arbitration of Claims made by Plaintiff] 09/13/2001 (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0009 PDF | Detail
Memorandum and Order [Denying Motion to Compel Arbitration] 10/19/2001 (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0010 PDF | Detail
Order [Denying Motion to Compel Deposition] 11/30/2001 (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0011 PDF | Detail
EE-IL-0194-0017 PDF | Detail
Document Source:
Opinion [on class certification] 12/27/2001 (2001 WL 1795093 / 2001 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 227) (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0020 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
EEOC Press Release: "EEOC Announces $47 Million Agreement in Principle to Settle Claims of Class-Wide Sex Bias Against Rent-A-Center" 03/08/2002
EE-IL-0194-0006 PDF | Detail
Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Stipulation of Settlement, Proposed Consent Decree, and of Form, Adequacy, and Manner of Notice to Settlement Class, and to Set Hearing on Proposed Settlement 06/12/2002
EE-IL-0194-0018 PDF | Detail
Document Source: District Court
Order Preliminarily Approving Stipulation of Settlement, Consent Decree, and Form, Adequacy, and Manner of Notice [...] 06/19/2002 (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Judgment of Final Approval Pursuant to Rule 54(b) 10/04/2002 (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
EEOC Press Release: "Court Gives Final Approval to $47 Million Settlement in Sex Discrimination Suits Against Rent-A-Center by EEOC and Private Plaintiffs" 10/04/2002
EE-IL-0194-0007 PDF | Detail
Consent Decree 10/11/2002
EE-IL-0194-0016 PDF | Detail
Order [Granting Leave to Pay a Claimant] 07/31/2003 (S.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0194-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Order to Distribute the Balance of the Settlement Fund to Charities 11/19/2004
EE-IL-0194-0014 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
EE-IL-0194-0015 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baran, Andrea G. (Kansas)
Gusewelle, Anne E. (Missouri)
Defendant's Lawyers Dargene, Dan C (Texas)
Harper, Donna (Missouri)
EE-IL-0194-0014 | EE-IL-0194-0018
Schlichter, Jerome J. (Missouri)
EE-IL-0194-0014 | EE-IL-0194-0018
Sedey, Mary Anne (Missouri)
EE-IL-0194-0014 | EE-IL-0194-0018
Other Lawyers None on record

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