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Case Name Cokely v. New York Convention Center Operating Corporation EE-NY-0205
Docket / Court 1:00-cv-04637 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study
Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On June 22, 2000, several employees of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, filed a lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1871, alleging discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and gender. They sued the New York Convention Center Operating ... read more >
On June 22, 2000, several employees of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, filed a lawsuit pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1871, alleging discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and gender. They sued the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs also based their claims on several New York statutes addressing employment discrimination and the Equal Pay Act. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for class certification and for monetary and punitive damages in the amount of $9,999,000.

The plaintiffs complained that the job appointment and promotion systems favored white, male employees in the amount of work and type of work assigned. This also gave white male employees greater opportunity to be promoted to higher-paying positions. They alleged that this created a hostile work environment filled with racist and misogynistic phrases. The plaintiffs also allege that they were denied privileges of employment because of their race and gender and that they suffered retaliation when they reported this discrimination.

The defendant asked for the case to be dismissed on several grounds in November of 2000. First, it claimed it was immune from suit under the 11th Amendment. Second, it claimed the plaintiffs failed to properly notify it, and thus could not sue under the state statutes. Third, the defendant argued the plaintiffs did not have a claim for relief under the Equal Pay Act, and finally that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim for relief for a hostile work environment and disparate treatment under the federal statutes.

On November 11, 2001, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge Deborah A. Batts), partially granted and partially denied the defendant’s motions. Judge Batts rejected the defendants arguments that they had 11th Amendment immunity. The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the claims under the state law and under the Equal Pay Act. The court found the plaintiffs had failed to properly notify the defendant and had failed to show there was a discriminatory pay gap barred under the Equal Pay Act. The court also granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the federal claims, but gave the plaintiffs' permission to amend their complaint to include a more definitive statement of their claim. The plaintiffs filed their amended pleadings on January 4th, 2002.

The defendants asked for the claims to be dismissed again in May of 2002, after the plaintiffs amended their complaint. The court rejected this motion in an opinion published on May 2nd, 2002 and allowed the plaintiffs to raise their claims under federal law.

The plaintiffs then sought class certification. They either wanted to be grouped in one class or grouped into three classes of minority freight handlers, minority carpenters, and minority housekeepers. The court initially rejected this motion on April 4th, 2003, but then granted class certification on May 20th, 2004. The court defined this class as "a class of all black and Hispanic persons who are or have been employed as freight handlers, carpenters or housekeepers at the Javits Center from July 1, 1995 to the present."

For the next two years, the parties engaged in settlement conversations. On August 21, 2006, Judge Batts held that a settlement class be certified and that the settlement set forth the full and final terms by all parties to settle and resolve all claims that were or could have been asserted in the litigation against NYCCOC. The settlement provided equitable relief and damages to members of the plaintiff class. It assigned a monitor to ensure that the defendant took steps to address discrimination and harassment in the workplace such as: creating an oversight committee; hiring an EEO Compliance Manager; re-publishing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and providing training for those policies; and monitoring any statistical variance in pay rate, work assignments, and overtime for employees of different races. The defendant was also ordered to make back payments to a number of individuals in the class and establish a settlement fund of $8,400,000. Although the settlement was originally set to end in 2009, for unknown reasons the final monitor's report from Zachary Carter was filed in 2013. The case was subsequently closed on January 1, 2013.

Caitlyn Clarke - 03/06/2008
Sarah Reasoner - 03/14/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Provide antidiscrimination training
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Race discrimination
Sex discrimination
Disparate Treatment
National Origin/Ethnicity
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)
State law
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) New York Convention Center Operating Group
Plaintiff Description All African-American and Hispanic persons who were or had been employed as Freight Handlers, Show Carpenters or part-time Housekeepers at the Javits Center at any time between July 1, 1995 and May 24, 2006.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
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 2006 - 2013
Filed 06/22/2000
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
EE-NY-0205-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion [ECF# 23] (174 F.Supp.2d 49)
EE-NY-0205-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion [ECF# 33] (2002 WL 844397)
EE-NY-0205-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion [ECF# 61] (2003 WL 1751738)
EE-NY-0205-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion (Granting Motion for Class Certification) [ECF# 75] (2004 WL 1152531)
EE-NY-0205-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Notice of Class Settlement
EE-NY-0205-0002.pdf | Detail
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Judges Batts, Deborah A. (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
Motley, Constance Baker (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0205-0001 | EE-NY-0205-0003 | EE-NY-0205-0004 | EE-NY-0205-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brown, Jeffrey Kevin (New York) show/hide docs
Kaswan, Beth A. (New York) show/hide docs
Ostrove, Frederic (New York) show/hide docs
Rediker, John (New York) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Carey, Larry (New York) show/hide docs
Levin, Richard A (New York) show/hide docs
Lieberman, Frederic L. (New York) show/hide docs
Rubin, Ivan B. (New York) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Sarcone, John (New York) show/hide docs

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