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Case Name Hnot v. Willis Group Holdings EE-NY-0207
Docket / Court 1:01-cv-06558 ( 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 July 19, 2001, female employees of an insurance brokerage firm filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued Willis Group Holdings (Willis) and its American affiliates and subsidiaries under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ... read more >
On July 19, 2001, female employees of an insurance brokerage firm filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued Willis Group Holdings (Willis) and its American affiliates and subsidiaries under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for claims of sex discrimination. The plaintiffs, represented by two private firms, sought damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs. They claimed that the defendants had a pattern and practice of discriminating against female employees—in compensation, assignment of projects and promotions, various terms and conditions of employment—and that an employee retaliated against one woman who complained about Willis’ discrimination. The case was assigned to Judge Gerard E. Lynch.

Two of the original named plaintiffs accepted offers of judgment from the defendant for $75,000 each on December 8, 2003. But the two remaining named plaintiffs continued to pursue their claims. The defendant filed separate motions for summary judgment against each named plaintiff on July 15 and August 23, 2004.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on September 17, 2004, claiming that the defendant also violated New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey anti-discrimination laws. On March 21, 2005, the court certified a class consisting of "all current and former female employees who have been employed by the defendants in positions eligible for the award of officer titles” between 1998 and 2001.

On April 8, 2005, the court granted summary judgment for the defendant on the named-plaintiff’s pay disparity claims because they fell outside the statute of limitations. However, the court allowed claims that were not excluded by the statute of limitations to proceed. The court also granted summary judgment for the defendants on the plaintiff's constructive discharge claim because she had not shown any evidence that her co-worker’s actions were motivated by her gender. And three days later, the court issued an opinion granting summary judgment for the defendants on the second named plaintiff’s claims because those were also outside the statute of limitations. However, the court allowed her to proceed on all of her pay disparity claims, as well as her claims about demotion, failure to promote, and retaliation.

The defendant filed a third motion for summary judgment on December 9, 2005, and a motion for sanctions, charging the plaintiff with bringing frivolous charges under New York law. The court dismissed the plaintiffs’ state claims on July 25, 2006 but denied the motion for sanctions. The court concluded that the plaintiff’s New York claims could not stand because her superiors in Massachusetts had set the salary rates, not her superiors in New York. However, the plaintiff’s claims under New Jersey and Massachusetts state law survived. The Second Circuit affirmed this order in Hnot v. Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., 234 Fed. Appx. 13 (2d Cir. 2007).

The suit proceeded on track for trial for the next year, but the parties settled in 2007. On October 18, 2007, the plaintiffs submitted a motion for preliminary approval of a consent decree, and on October 22, the court granted preliminary approval. The court granted final approval on February 25, 2008, retaining jurisdiction over the decree. The court awarded a consent judgment for the plaintiffs’ representation providing one firm more than $2.5 million and the other more than $1.7 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses. The consent decree was set to last for three years. The settlement fund to the plaintiff class was $8.5 million. The consent decree said that an expert witness would be used to determine the total lost wages of each individual class member. And the settlement provided no rights to opt out and indefinitely released the defendant from future liability.

The consent decree also specified injunctive relief that would be subject to outside monitoring. The defendants agreed to develop new objective systems for performance evaluation and compensation of employees and would submit those to the monitor. They also agreed to provide data on compensation and promotion practices to the monitor and to comply with the state and federal statutes cited in the complaint. The parties appointed the monitor at the defendant’s expense.

The court retained jurisdiction through the duration of the consent decree, which expired in 2011. The case is now closed.

Eric Weiler - 07/01/2010
Nathan Santoscoy - 03/17/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Discrimination-area
Demotion
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Seniority
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State Anti-Discrimination Law
State law
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Willis Group Holdings, Ltd.
Willis Group Holdings, Ltd.
Plaintiff Description All current and former female employees who have been employed by the defendants in positions eligible for the award of officer titles” between 1998 and 2001
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
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 2008 - 2011
Filing Year 2001
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:01−cv−06558 (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion [Granting In Part And Denying In Part Plaintiffs' Motion To File Second Amended Complaint] (2004 WL 1794493 / 2004 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 15734) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/10/2004
Source: LexisNexis
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 68]
EE-NY-0207-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/17/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion And Order [Granting Class Certification] (228 F.R.D. 476) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/21/2005
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion And Order [Granting In Part And Denying In Part Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment] (2005 WL 831664 / 2005 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 6066) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/08/2005
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion And Order [Granting In Part And Denying In Part Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment] (2005 WL 831665 / 2005 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 6064) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/08/2005
Source: Westlaw
Opinion And Order [Granting Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment; Dismissing Plaintiff's Pay Disparity Claim Under The New York Human Rights Law; And Denying Defendants' Motion For Sanctions] (2006 WL 2079326 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 52082) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/24/2006
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion And Order [Denying Plaintiffs' Motions To Amend The RCMP, Compel Further Discovery And Modify The Class Certification Order] (2006 WL 2381869 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 52612) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/17/2006
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion And Order [Denying Plaintiff-Intervenor Adrianne Cronas's Motion To Intervene And Be Appointed Class Representative] (2006 WL 3476746 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 87091) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/30/2006
Source: LexisNexis
Appellant's [Plaintiff-Intervenor] Brief
EE-NY-0207-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/15/2007
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion And Order [Denying Defendants' Motion to Decertify the Class] (241 F.R.D. 204) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/08/2007
Source: Google Scholar
Appellee's [Defendant's] Brief
EE-NY-0207-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/19/2007
Source: LexisNexis
Plaintiff's Memorandum Of Law In Opposition To Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Or Compel Arbitration And In Support Of Cross-Motion For Relief From Order Denying Intervention In Hnot [ECF# 147] (2007 WL 5215757)
EE-NY-0207-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/21/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appellant's [Plaintiff-Intervenor] Reply Brief
EE-NY-0207-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2007
Source: LexisNexis
Opinion And Summary Order [Affirming District Court's Denial Of Plaintiff-Intervenor Adrienne Cronas's Motion To Intervene] (234 Fed.Appx. 13)
EE-NY-0207-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/10/2007
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion And Order [Denying Defendants' Motion To Exclude Testimony From Plaintiffs' Expert] (2007 WL 1599154 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 40243) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/01/2007
Source: LexisNexis
[Proposed] Consent Decree
EE-NY-0207-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/18/2007
Order [Granting Preliminary Approval of Consent Decree] [ECF# 192] (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/19/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Final Approval of Consent Decree] [ECF# 207] (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/25/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion And Order [Granting In Part Plaintiffs' Motion For Attorneys' Fees] (2008 WL 1166309 / 2008 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 28312) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0207-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/07/2008
Source: LexisNexis
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Judges Freeman, Debra Carol (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-9001
Hall, Peter W. (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0008
Lynch, Gerard E. (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0001 | EE-NY-0207-0002 | EE-NY-0207-0009 | EE-NY-0207-0010 | EE-NY-0207-0011 | EE-NY-0207-0012 | EE-NY-0207-0013 | EE-NY-0207-0014 | EE-NY-0207-0015 | EE-NY-0207-0016 | EE-NY-0207-0017 | EE-NY-0207-0018 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Sack, Robert David (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0008
Sotomayor, Sonia (Second Circuit, SCOTUS, S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Coleman, Llezlie Green (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-9001
Fink, Rosalind (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0004 | EE-NY-0207-0005 | EE-NY-0207-0007 | EE-NY-0207-0016
Freedman, Spencer B. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0005
Glick, Jessica M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0011
Herbst, Robert L. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0004 | EE-NY-0207-0005 | EE-NY-0207-0007 | EE-NY-0207-0016 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Lee, Martin R. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0003 | EE-NY-0207-0009 | EE-NY-0207-0010 | EE-NY-0207-0012 | EE-NY-0207-0013 | EE-NY-0207-0014 | EE-NY-0207-0015 | EE-NY-0207-0017 | EE-NY-0207-0019 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Lew, Avi (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0010 | EE-NY-0207-0014 | EE-NY-0207-0017 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Lyn, Jessica Glick (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-9001
Nussbaum, Linda P. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0009 | EE-NY-0207-0010 | EE-NY-0207-0011 | EE-NY-0207-0012 | EE-NY-0207-0013 | EE-NY-0207-0015 | EE-NY-0207-0019 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Profeta, Lawrence J. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0009 | EE-NY-0207-0011 | EE-NY-0207-0012 | EE-NY-0207-0013 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Sellers, Joseph Marc (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0003 | EE-NY-0207-0009 | EE-NY-0207-0010 | EE-NY-0207-0011 | EE-NY-0207-0012 | EE-NY-0207-0013 | EE-NY-0207-0017 | EE-NY-0207-0019 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Webber, Christine E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0003 | EE-NY-0207-0011 | EE-NY-0207-0015 | EE-NY-0207-0017 | EE-NY-0207-0019 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Yakren, Sofia (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0004 | EE-NY-0207-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, Jeffrey M. (Florida) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0003 | EE-NY-0207-0016
Plevan, Bettina Barasch (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0003 | EE-NY-0207-0006 | EE-NY-0207-0009 | EE-NY-0207-0010 | EE-NY-0207-0011 | EE-NY-0207-0012 | EE-NY-0207-0013 | EE-NY-0207-0014 | EE-NY-0207-0015 | EE-NY-0207-0016 | EE-NY-0207-0017 | EE-NY-0207-9001
Rozic, Kristin S. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0016
Rumeld, Myron D. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0207-0003 | EE-NY-0207-0009 | EE-NY-0207-0010 | EE-NY-0207-0012 | EE-NY-0207-0013 | EE-NY-0207-0015 | EE-NY-0207-0016 | EE-NY-0207-0017 | EE-NY-0207-9001

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