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Case Name Colindres v. Quietflex Manufacturing EE-TX-0292
Docket / Court 01-cv-04319 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection EEOC Study -- in sample
IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study
Private Employment Class Actions
Attorney Organization EEOC
MALDEF
Case Summary
On October 10, 2001, a group of Latino workers filed a lawsuit under of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. against Quietflex Manufacturing Co., in the United States District Court of the Western District ... read more >
On October 10, 2001, a group of Latino workers filed a lawsuit under of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. against Quietflex Manufacturing Co., in the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas, though it was subsequently transferred to the Southern District. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and eventually the EEOC, asked the Court for injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as back pay and punitive damages alleging that Quietflex discriminated against them on the basis of national origin. Colindres v. QuietFlex Manufacturing, 3690215 WL 1 (S.D. Tex. 2004). Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that they were discriminated in pay and work conditions based on their national origin and also that they were fired on January 10, 2002, in retaliation for a work stoppage they staged to protest discrimination against Latino employees. Colindres v. QuietFlex Manufacturing, 3690215 WL 2 (S.D. Tex. 2004).

The entire litigation arose because of the plaintiffs allegations that the company used departmental segregation that kept most Latinos confined to one department , even when they requested transfer. The "Latino department" was department 911, and the "Vietnamese department" was 910. While the defendant claimed there was no racial segregation, the workers of department 911 allegedly received lower wages than workers in Department 910; had more physically demanding and dangerous jobs; worked more hours to meet their minimum production quotas; were provided inadequate safety equipment; were more frequently injured; and were required to perform menial tasks, such as cleaning the lunchroom and the bathroom, without compensation. The plaintiffs asserted that defendants "regularly and purposefully asserted a requirement of English language fluency to deny Latinos transfer to more desirable departments, including 910, and yet, defendants did not impose an English language fluency requirement on similarly situated non-Latino employees who do not speak or read English." Not only was their treatment allegedly beyond unfair, but, upon protesting those conditions in a staged walkout, the plaintiffs were fired. Colindres v. QuietFlex Manufacturing, 3690215 WL 2 (S.D.T.X. 2004). Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., on the ground that they were regularly required to work in excess of 40 hours per week, but were not paid for such overtime work." Colindres v. QuietFlex Manufacturing, 3690215 WL 3 (S.D. Tex. 2004)

On February 26, 2002, the court (Judge Rosenthal) consolidated the case with another civil action No. H-01-4323, Jose P. Aleman, et al. v. Quietflex Manufacturing Co., L.P., et al, a class action arising out of the same facts. Colindres v. QuietFlex Manufacturing, 3690215 WL 3 (S.D. Tex. 2004).

On December 4, 2004, the Court (Judge Rosenthal) granted the EEOC's motion to intervene. The EEOC sought a permanent injunction against Quietflex prohibiting it from engaging in employment practices that discriminate on the basis of national origin. The EEOC also asks the Court to order back wages plus interest, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for the plaintiffs. According to its press release, the EEOC filed suit after, investigating the case, finding discrimination took place, and exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement.

On January 6, 2003, all other counsel withdrew, and the plaintiffs were represented solely by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.

On March 31, 2006, the court (Judge Rosenthal) denied the plaintiffs motion for class certification. The basis of the decision was due to the representative plaintiffs of the proposed class asking the court to disregard the claims for compensatory damages on a class wide-basis. This move was designed to improve the likelihood of certification, but ended up being the reason the court denied the motion. The court stated that the decision to drop the monetary damages claim cannot be imposed upon the absent class members without raising a very serious conflict of interest. Therefore, he court then ordered the two parties into mediation. Colindres v. QuietFlex Manufacturing, 235 F.R.D. 383 (S.D. Tex. 2006).

On January 22, 2007, the court signed and ordered the amended consent decree. The settlement gave $2.8 million to the 78 person group of plaintiffs. It also forced the company to implement policies and practices that advance equal opportunity employment. The case was closed, but reopened when plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce consent decree.

On October 20, 2009, the Court ordered that one section of the consent decree was to remain in effect until March 21, 2010. Parties had until April 5, 2010, to move for further modification, but no such motions were made, and there has been no further action in the case.

Matthew Aibel - 11/06/2010


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discipline
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Retaliation
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Indian
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Quietflex Manufacturing
Plaintiff Description Latino workers fired after protesting against their former employer for its national origin-based discrimination in pay and working conditions.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
MALDEF
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 2007 - 2010
Case Closing Year n/a
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 ]

Docket(s)
4:01-cv-04319 (S.D. Tex.) 12/13/2001
EE-TX-0292-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:01-cv-04319 (S.D. Tex.) 10/20/2009
EE-TX-0292-9003 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
EEOC Press Release: "EEOC Moves to Intervene in Quietflex Lawsuit" 09/26/2002
EE-TX-0292-0002 PDF | External Link | Detail
Memorandum and Opinion [Regarding EEOC's Motion to Intervene] 12/04/2002 (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0292-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [Regarding Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order] 05/26/2005 (228 F.R.D. 567) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0292-0018 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order denying cross-motions for summary judgment 03/31/2006 (427 F.Supp.2d 737) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0292-0017 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order denying summary judgment and class certification 03/31/2006 (235 F.R.D. 347) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0292-0019 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Approved Consent Decree 01/22/2007
EE-TX-0292-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
EEOC Press Release: "EEOC, Quietflex Manufacturing Company, L.P., and Others Announce Final Approval of Settlement with Hispanic Employees on Discrimination Claims" 01/24/2007
EE-TX-0292-0010 PDF | External Link | Detail
EEOC Performance and Accountability Report 01/15/2008
EE-TX-0292-0011 PDF | External Link | Detail
ORDER 10/20/2009 (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0292-0016 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Rosenthal, Lee Hyman (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0292-0003 | EE-TX-0292-0009 | EE-TX-0292-0016 | EE-TX-0292-0017 | EE-TX-0292-0018 | EE-TX-0292-0019 | EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Monitors/Masters Hughes, Hunter R. III (Georgia)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bernal, Diego Manuel (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Bowne, Timothy M. (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-0009 | EE-TX-0292-0016 | EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Hinojosa, David G. (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-0016 | EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Kahne, David Alfred (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Kauffman, Albert H. (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Perales, Nina (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-0009 | EE-TX-0292-0016 | EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Perez, Marisol Linda (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Saucedo, Leticia M. (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Urias, David Herrera (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Defendant's Lawyers Birenbaum, Kate Lesley (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Collins, John L. (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Dobrowski, Paul J (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Garcia, Christopher A. (Illinois)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Hammett, J. Richard (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Maatman, Gerald L Jr. (Illinois)
EE-TX-0292-0009 | EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
McAlpine, Fraser A. (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Oberti, Mark Joseph (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Sullivan, Edwin (Texas)
EE-TX-0292-9000 | EE-TX-0292-9003
Other Lawyers None on record

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