University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Gonzalez v. Pritzker EE-NY-0254
Docket / Court 1:10-cv-03105 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Attorney Organization Center for Constitutional Rights
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On April 13, 2010, rejected U.S. Census Bureau job applicants filed an employment discrimination class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by a coalition of public interest attorney organizations and private counsel, alleged that ... read more >
On April 13, 2010, rejected U.S. Census Bureau job applicants filed an employment discrimination class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by a coalition of public interest attorney organizations and private counsel, alleged that Census hiring procedures, which pre-screened all applicants with arrest records, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The Census screened out applicants whose names turn up in an FBI database, indicating an arrest record regardless of whether the arrest led to a criminal conviction or to any action at all. Applicants were required to provide the Census with official documents from any criminal case that shows up on their record within 30 days of their application. The plaintiffs claimed the 30-day letter requirement was unduly burdensome - if not impossible - to comply with since the documentation requested may have been sealed, expunged, lost, or destroyed due to age.

Because African Americans and Latinos were more likely to have arrest records than whites, the plaintiffs claimed the hiring policies discriminated against people of color in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This was supported by a letter the EEOC sent the Census in 2009 criticizing the policy, warning that it may be in violation of Title VII. The plaintiffs also claimed that the compliance procedures did not distinguish among applicants with recent, serious convictions and those with records of long-ago, minor - often non-criminal - conduct, and that the requirement therefore had no job-related relevance.

The plaintiffs requested injunctive relief to alter the Census hiring practices, eliminating the 30-day letter requirement and other modifications to comply with the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures and related EEOC Guidance. They also requested that the defendant eradicate the effects of past and present unlawful employment practices by providing back pay and equal employment opportunities for all Class members.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification on June 28, 2013. On December 16, 2013, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. On July 1, 2014, the District Court for the Southern District of New York (Magistrate Judge Frank Maas) issued an order with respect to both motions.

Judge Maas granted the defendant's motion in part and denied in part. Three named plaintiffs were dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Judge Maas granted in part and denied in part motion for class certification. He certified the class, consisting only of African-Americans, who sought temporary employment during the 2010 census and alleged harm suffered from the 30-day letter. However, since two of the three plaintiffs Judge Maas dismissed were the only Latino applicants, he did not include Latinos in the class certification originally. The class was certified for the purposes of determining liability and affording injunctive relief, but not for resolving damages.

On October 2, 2014, Judge Maas re-instated one of the Latino plaintiffs, and certified the class as representing all African American and Latino candidates who applied for temporary employment to the 2010 Decennial Census and claim they were harmed by the 30-day requirement, adjudication criteria, or both.

Subsequent to the Court's order, the parties entered into negotiations in the hopes of reaching a settlement.

On February 8, 2016, the parties filed a joint letter with the Court stating they had concluded negotiations and reached an agreement that was subject to the Department of Justice's approval. In April 2016 the parties submitted the settlement agreement to the Court and Judge Maas issued a preliminary approval on April 19, 2016. Judge Maas ordered a final approval of the settlement on September 20, 2016.

In the settlement, the Defendant agreed to pay 15 million dollars in damages and attorneys fees. In addition, the parties jointly selected independent organizations to work together as independent consultants to Census relative to the selection and hiring of temporary employees for the 2020 decennial census.

Kelly Ehrenreich - 11/06/2016
Kenneth Gray - 08/07/2013
Maria Ricaurte - 03/21/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-area
Hiring
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e
Defendant(s) United States Department of Commerce
Plaintiff Description Two black individuals with mild arrest records filing on behalf of themselves and African American, Latino, and Native American persons who applied for temporary employment with the United States Census Bureau for whom there is no record of conviction or who are otherwise suitable for employment. The original plaintiffs were later joined by 8 more class representatives who were each African American or Latino
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Center for Constitutional Rights
Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Unknown
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 ]

Links Census Worker Background Check Discrimination Lawsuit
http://www.censusdiscriminationlawsuit.com/
Written: Sep. 10, 2016
By: Outten & Golden (Outten & Golden)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:10−cv−03105 (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0254-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Press Release
EE-NY-0254-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2010
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Complaint
EE-NY-0254-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
NOTICE, CONSENT, AND REFERENCE OF A CIVIL ACTION TO A MAGISTRATE JUDGE
EE-NY-0254-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint
EE-NY-0254-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint
EE-NY-0254-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order [Certifying Class] (28 F.Supp.3d 222) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0254-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/01/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Updated Class Certification (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0254-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/02/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Notifying the Court of Potential Settlement Agreement
EE-NY-0254-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/08/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement
EE-NY-0254-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2016
Order Granting Motions for Final Approval of Settlement and Certification for Damages of the Settlement Class (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0254-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Berman, Richard M. (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0254-0003
Maas, Frank S. (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
EE-NY-0254-0006 | EE-NY-0254-0009 | EE-NY-0254-0010 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aaron, Deidre Anne (New York)
EE-NY-0254-9000
Abrahamson, Sally Jasmine (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Bellman, Richard F (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Bien, Rachel Megan (New York)
EE-NY-0254-9000
Charney, Darius (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Chin, Jackson (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Coulter, Robert T. (Montana)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Crawford, Sarah (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0254-9000
Dietrich, Sharon (Pennsylvania)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Dolkart, Jane L. (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Keefe, Paul (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Kirkpatrick, Michael T (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Klein, Adam T. (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0007 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
McClain, Ray (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Miazad, Ossai (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Miller, Samuel Rand (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Murray, Julie Alyssa (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0254-9000
Pierre-Louis, Melissa E. (New York)
EE-NY-0254-9000
Samant, Anjana (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Steel, Lewis M (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Swartz, Justin (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Trzinski, Amber Christine (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Whiting, Judy (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-0005 | EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Wiggins, Audrey (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0254-0002 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bharara, Preetinder S. (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0004 | EE-NY-0254-0008
Filor, Daniel (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0004 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Kuehler, Natalie Nancy (New York)
EE-NY-0254-9000
La Morte, Tara Marie (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Onozawa, Tomoko (New York)
EE-NY-0254-9000
Pellegrino, Louis Anthony (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Penn, Allison D (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0004 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Tulis, Elizabeth (New York)
EE-NY-0254-0008 | EE-NY-0254-9000
Other Lawyers McClain, Kenneth B. (Missouri)
EE-NY-0254-9000

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