University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name LAKE v. AK STEEL CORPORATION EE-PA-0001
Docket / Court 2:03-cv-00517-DSC ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection EEOC Study -- in sample
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On April 15, 2003, two African American employees of AK Steel Corporation brought this action in the Western District of Pennsylvania under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for compensatory and punitive ... read more >
On April 15, 2003, two African American employees of AK Steel Corporation brought this action in the Western District of Pennsylvania under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, claiming that AK Steel had discriminated against them because of their race. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that AK Steel had permitted its employees to use racial slurs and display racially divisive symbols without punishment. Plaintiffs further claimed they were denied opportunities for promotions and training that were not denied to their white coworkers, and that their supervisors discriminated on the basis of performance demands, job assignments, personal deportment, and other conditions of employment. Finally, Plaintiffs accused AK Steel of being willfully blind to their complaints and retaliating against African American employees through forced suspensions from employment or discharge for complaining about the work environment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission instituted a related action on September 8, 2003 against AK Steel, seeking relief for eight employees, including the plaintiffs in the instant case (see EEOC v. AK Steel Corporation, EE-PA-0215 on this site). The cases were consolidated on August 26, 2004. One of the named plaintiffs in this action filed an additional complaint against AK Steel on May 21, 2005. That action was consolidated with this case on September 11, 2006.

On May 1, 2006, the District Court (Judge Cercone) denied AK Steel's motion for summary judgment. Lake v. AK Steel Corp., 2006 WL 1158610 (W.D. Pa. 2006). The parties reached a settlement agreement on January 31, 2007. The three-year settlement agreement includes anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation clauses, and a confidentiality clause regarding the private plaintiffs' and complainants' involvement in the case. The agreement requires AK Steel Corporation to post notice of the agreement in its Butler location, maintain records of all incidents of racial harassment, and make these records available to the EEOC within ten days of request. The EEOC is also permitted to interview any employee of AK Steel Corporation after five days notice. AK Steel Corporation must provide a training session for all employees, including separate training for supervisory and managerial personnel. New employees must receive training during new employee orientation. Training sessions must be conducted by an EEOC approved trainer. The decree includes a "notice and chance to remedy" dispute resolution process. AK Steel Corporation agreed to pay a total of $550,000. One private plaintiff was awarded $360,000 and the other private plaintiff was awarded $100,000. One non-party complainant was awarded $100,000 and 5 other non-party complainants were each awarded $38,000.

Jennifer Gitter - 03/20/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discipline
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Promotion
Training
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
EEOC-centric
Private Suit Related / Consolidated with EEOC Suit
General
Disparate Treatment
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
42 U.S.C. § 1981
Defendant(s) AK Steel Corporation
Plaintiff Description African American employees of AK Steel Corporation who complained of racial discrimination.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2007 - 2010
Case Closing Year 2007
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing EE-PA-0215 : EEOC v. AK Steel Corporation (W.D. Pa.)
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)
2:03-cv-00517-DSC (W.D. Pa.) 02/02/2007
EE-PA-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion [Regarding Defendant's Motions for Summary Judgment] 05/01/2006 (2006 WL 1158610 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 25118) (W.D. Pa.)
EE-PA-0001-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Settlement Agreement 01/31/2007
EE-PA-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
EEOC Press Release: "AK Steel Corporation to Pay $600,000 to Settle EEOC Race Harassment Lawsuit" 01/31/2007
EE-PA-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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