On October 23, 2006, a class action lawsuit was brought in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e; the New York State Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law § 296; and the New York City Human Rights Law, New York City Administrative Code §§ 8-101 against Gristede's Operating Corp., a retail chain of grocery stores. Former female cashiers of Gristede's, represented by private counsel, claimed that the company engaged in discriminatory company-wide practices and policies with regard to placing, promoting, and compensating women with the effect of denying them equal opportunities. The plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.
Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant channeled women into lower-paying, part-time positions such as cashier or bookkeeper; this was done without regard to their qualifications or capabilities. Further, the plaintiffs claimed that store managers and upper management, the overwhelming majority of whom were male, almost uniformly offered promotions to males.
The complaint was amended on June 21, 2007 and again on January 1st, 2010. The major allegations remained unchanged, though some of the specific plaintiffs were added and removed from the case. There was a lengthy and contentious discovery battle between the parties.
On March 8, 2010, the District Court (Judge Laura Taylor Swain) issued an order that (1) denied Defendant's motion to strike expert reports and (2) certified the proposed class. First, the court summarized the findings of fact up to this point in discovery. The court determined that the defendant's hiring and promotional decisions were primarily made by males and were highly discretionary, with no objective criteria to follow. Further, there was evidence that most female prospective employees were told cashier positions were the only ones available, and that they were never informed of promotional opportunities. The court in this order allowed expert testimony based on statistical information that may show that gender disparities exist in the defendant's hiring and promoting practices. Also, the court certified a class of "all current and former female Gristede's employees who worked for Gristede's at any time between November 2, 2004 and the date of final judgment in this matter." This class was certified, however only for the purposes of conjunctive and declaratory relief.
After two years of discovery motions and hearings, the parties agreed to a Settlement that awarded the Plaintiffs' $1,450,000 in May of 2012. On November 15, 2012 the court issued an order approving the preliminary settlement and conditionally certifying the settlement class. In March 1, 2013 the plaintiffs moved for final certification of class and approval of the settlement. Judge Swain approved it on June 19th, 2013. 2013 WL 3146772.
The class was finalized, and included female employees of the Defendant between November 2, 2004 and November 14, 2012. The settlement included the monetary award to the Plaintiffs of $1,450,000, and forward-looking corrective measures, including prohibiting the steering of females into low paying jobs, maximizing efforts to increase female participation at the management level, and posting management positions online that are available to everyone. The corrective measures were to be enforced by a compliance monitor. The parties were also instructed to make good faith efforts to negotiate proper attorneys' fees.
The case was closed August 14, 2013. Adam Teitelbaum - 03/30/2010
Salvatore Mancina - 11/06/2016