University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name EEOC v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC. EE-TX-0455
Docket / Court 4:11-CV-3425 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On September 21, 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this lawsuit against Bass Pro Outdoor World in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff brought the lawsuit for alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ... read more >
On September 21, 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this lawsuit against Bass Pro Outdoor World in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff brought the lawsuit for alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, the EEOC alleged that since November of 2005 Bass Pro engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of denying employment to qualified Black and Hispanic applicants for hourly and salaried positions and that it retaliated against employees who opposed actions they perceived as unlawful or who otherwise complained or reported such incidents (including but not limited to sexual harassment and gender discrimination). The EEOC also alleged that Bass Pro destroyed or failed to preserve relevant records in violation of Section 709(c) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-8(c), such as employment applications, personnel files, tests, lists of job candidates, and efforts to contact the corporate complaint center. The EEOC sought back pay, economic compensation, compensation for emotional suffering, punitive damages, and reinstatement of behalf of those affected. It also sought injunctions to end the allegedly discriminatory and retaliatory practices and to create and preserve records in compliance with the Civil Rights Act. Unusually, for the EEOC, the lawsuit was based on a "Commissioner's Charge" rather than a complaint by an employee. The case was assigned to Judge Keith Ellison.

Bass Pro responded to the EEOC's 9-page complaint on January 5, 2012 with a motion to dismiss complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On January 26, 2012, the EEOC filed a 12-page amended complaint giving more factual detail for its allegations, such as statistics on the number of Black and Hispanic managers and another instance of retaliation. In this complaint the EEOC also added Bass Pro, Inc. (BPI), and Tracker Marine, LLC (Tracker), as defendants. Because the EEOC had filed a new complaint, Judge Ellison denied Bass Pro's motion to dismiss the original complaint as moot. On March 5, 2012, Bass Pro filed a new motion to dismiss seeking, among other things, not only dismissal of all claims based on a failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted, but also to have the claims against Tracker and Bass Pro, Inc. dismissed on jurisdictional and procedural grounds.

On May 31, 2012, the court granted Bass Pro's motion in part, giving the EEOC leave to amend the complaint. 884 F.Supp.2d 499 (S.D. Tex. 2012). The court found that the EEOC had made sufficient allegations to state the recordkeeping claim. Because the EEOC had not identified even one particular individual for its retaliation claim, that claim was dismissed with leave to amend. The court ruled that the 300-day limitation (barring suits for conduct that occurred more than 300 days before a charge is filed with the EEOC) applied to both claims under § 706 and claims under § 707 (pattern or practice). The court also ruled that the EEOC could not proceed on a hybrid § 706 and § 707 claim--pattern or practice claims could not be brought under § 706, and the EEOC had to provide sufficient allegations for each type of claim. For those reasons the court restricted the EEOC's claims to those that fell within February 2007 and April 2010 and dismissed the EEOC's discriminatory hiring claims because the statistics on managers did not plausibly suggest a pattern or practice of hiring discrimination for the wider category of salaried and hourly positions, as opposed to just manager positions.

The EEOC filed a 247-page second amended complaint on July 20, 2012. The complaint greatly elaborated the factual details of the claims. The most notable additions were as follows: connecting the behavior of store lower-level management to a profile allegedly established by the owner of the companies at a meeting of Store General Managers, listing a total of 201 individuals (184 Black and 18 Hispanic) covering a range of states who were denied employment with details of their application efforts, identifying 5 targets of retaliation and narrating their attempts to complain about or correct unlawful activity, and providing statistic data from 24 stores across the country on the number of total Black and Hispanic employees as well as store-specific comparisons of percentages of Black and Hispanic Bass Pro employees to the percentage of Black and Hispanic employees in the county respectively (the comparisons involved manager and non-manager positions). The complaint did not explicitly differentiate §706 claims from §707 claims. The complaint also addressed jurisdictional issues.

Bass Pro filed another motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on August 24, 2012. On October 25, 2012, the court dismissed the claims against BPI for lack of jurisdiction but deferred deciding jurisdiction over Tracker because Bass Pro had misidentified Tracker Marine Retail, LLC, as Tracker Marine and the EEOC hadn't had a full opportunity for discovery to establish jurisdiction. 2012 WL 13040407.

On March 18, 2013, the court granted Bass Pro's motion to dismiss in part, with leave to amend. Noting that the allegations did not constitute a prima facie case of discriminatory hiring under § 706, the court found them sufficient to state the claim. The court held the combination of statistics and anecdotes to be sufficient to state a §707 pattern or practice claim. The court dismissed retaliation claims for 2 of the 5 individuals. The record-keeping claim was still valid. 2013 WL 1124063.

The EEOC filed a third amended complaint on April 15, 2013 adding details for the retaliation claims that had been dismissed. On May 15, 2013, Bass Pro filed its response and a motion for summary judgment. The EEOC subsequently filed a motion for partial summary in its own favor, arguing that it had satisfied its duty to engage in conciliation before bringing a suit and that the court should not rule on that issue. On October 2, 2013, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment, holding that the issue was reviewable. 2013 WL 5515345.

On June 13, 2014, the EEOC filed its fourth amended complaint, correcting the name of one of the defendants. Because this was the only change, the parties agreed that the fourth amended complaint did not render Bass Pro’s motion for summary judgment moot. On July 30, 2014, the court denied this motion, reconsidering its denial of the EEOC’s motion for summary judgment and finding that the EEOC did meet the statutory requirements of conciliation. 35 F.Supp.3d 836. On November 17, 2014, the court allowed Bass Pro to file an interlocutory appeal. 2014 WL 6453606. Bass Pro appealed the July 30 order to the U.S. Appellate Court for the Fifth Circuit on February 10, 2015. The district court chose not to stay discovery pending the appeal.

On May 8, 2017, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny Bass Pro’s motion for summary judgment. 826 F.3d 791. The panel was made up of Judge Patrick Higginbotham, Judge Stephen Higginson, and Judge Leslie Southwick.

On July 24, 2017, the parties reached a settlement agreement, and the court entered a consent decree the next day. The consent decree required Bass Pro to reform its recruitment and hiring practices, provide anti-discrimination training, create an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and pay a total of $10,500,000.00 to be distributed among the qualified Black and Hispanic applicants who had been denied employment at any of its stores nationwide. Pro Bass also had to report back to the EEOC. The consent decree was to be in effect for forty-two months (or three and a half years) after its date of entry, during which the court would retain jurisdiction.

In September 2017, the court granted a motion to extend the deadlines for Bass Pro having to complete certain tasks. There are no further entries in the docket since then, which suggests that the parties have been compliant with the consent decree so far. The court will presumably continue to retain jurisdiction until January 2021, when the consent decree expires.

Kenneth Gray - 06/20/2013
Rebecca Strauss - 07/09/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Goals and Timekeeping
Hire
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Promotion
Testing
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Record-keeping
Retaliation
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC
Tracker Marine Retail, LLC
Plaintiff Description EEOC filing, as a result of a charge filed by a member of the Commission, on behalf of black and Hispanic individuals who were denied employment in hourly and salaried positions at Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC, and on behalf of recipients of retaliation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
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 2017 - 2021
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
4:11-cv-03425 (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/05/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
EE-TX-0455-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order (Granting In Part Motion to Dismiss) [ECF# 53] (884 F.Supp.2d 499) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/31/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order (Dismissing BPI for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction) [ECF# 92] (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/19/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order (Granting In Part Motion to Dismiss 61 Amended Complaint) [ECF# 99] (2013 WL 1124063) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/18/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 104]
EE-TX-0455-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Opinion [ECF# 149] (2013 WL 5515345) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/02/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Opinion [ECF# 151] (1 F.Supp.3d 647) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/04/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fourth Amended Complaint of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [ECF# 171]
EE-TX-0455-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Opinion [ECF# 184] (35 F.Supp.3d 836) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Opinion [ECF# 198] (2014 WL 6453606) (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/17/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 378] (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Ellison, Keith P. (S.D. Tex.)
EE-TX-0455-0002 | EE-TX-0455-0003 | EE-TX-0455-0004 | EE-TX-0455-0006 | EE-TX-0455-0007 | EE-TX-0455-0009 | EE-TX-0455-0010 | EE-TX-0455-0011 | EE-TX-0455-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adewale-Mendes, Rose (Texas)
EE-TX-0455-0008
Batog, Konrad (New York)
EE-TX-0455-0008 | EE-TX-0455-9000
Bowne, Timothy M. (Texas)
EE-TX-0455-0001 | EE-TX-0455-0011 | EE-TX-0455-9000
Goldman, Tanya L. (Maryland)
EE-TX-0455-0005 | EE-TX-0455-9000
Juge, Gregory T. (Louisiana)
EE-TX-0455-0001 | EE-TX-0455-0008 | EE-TX-0455-9000
Lee, James L. (District of Columbia)
EE-TX-0455-0008 | EE-TX-0455-0011
Lopez, P. David (District of Columbia)
EE-TX-0455-0008
Reams, Gwendolyn Young (District of Columbia)
EE-TX-0455-0008 | EE-TX-0455-0011
Rose, Robert D. (New York)
EE-TX-0455-0001 | EE-TX-0455-0008 | EE-TX-0455-9000
Sacher, Jim (Texas)
EE-TX-0455-0008
Sustaita, Rodolfo Lucio (Texas)
EE-TX-0455-0011 | EE-TX-0455-9000
Wilhite, Connie Kay (Texas)
EE-TX-0455-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Burch, Carolyn Cain (Georgia)
EE-TX-0455-9000
Burns, William Robert (Texas)
EE-TX-0455-9000
Johnston, Michael W. (Georgia)
EE-TX-0455-9000
Matchett, Samuel M. (Georgia)
EE-TX-0455-9000

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