On February 28, 2007, a rejected African-American job applicant filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama against defendant Cook's Pest Control, Inc. On July 17, 2007, another plaintiff joined the suit and the plaintiffs amended the complaint. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, brought suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, claiming that defendant maintained a pattern and practice of discrimination in employment on the basis of race. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that defendant discouraged African-Americans from applying for jobs with defendant by, among other things, telling them there was no job and requiring that they file applications personally at every office at which they sought employment. Plaintiffs asked the court for a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and money damages.
On August 8, 2007, defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's original complaint for lack of service and a motion to dismiss the Title VII claims in plaintiffs' amended complaint. On January 28, 2008, the Court (Judge L. Scott Coogler) denied both motions.
On March 3, 2008, the Court granted the later-joining plaintiff's motion for voluntary dismissal.
On June 5, 2008, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the named plaintiff failed to failed to make a prima facie case for disparate impact or disparate treatment and failed to show any injury to himself. On December 9, 2008, the Court (Judge Coogler) denied defendant's motion for summary judgment without prejudice pending further discovery.
Over the next several years, extensive discovery was conducted. In December of 2010, the cases was stayed temporarily as the parties sought mediation, and in October of 2011 the parties reached a settlement. Under the terms of the proposed settlement agreement, defendant agreed to set up a settlement fund of $2,500,000 and to bear the costs of administering the payment of the class members' claims. It also agreed to establish and implement a race-neutral, anti-discrimination hiring policy with the help a monitor, to train employees in the policy, and to keep records of the race of applicants and hires and the reason hiring decisions were made. The settlement was to last three years, with a possible extension of up to one additional year if necessary to resolve challenges still pending with the monitor.
On January 27, 2012, the Court (Judge Coogler) preliminarily approved the settlement and provisionally certified the class for the purposes of the settlement.
On July 17, 2012, the Court approved the parties' settlement agreement and dismissed the case with prejudice, while retaining jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement. 2012 WL 2923542.
The named plaintiff was alloted to receive $48,000 for the service to the class. The court ordered the defendant to pay attorney's fees, costs and expenses in the amount of $928,831.55, which is $875,000.00 in attorney's fees and $53,831.55 of expenses.
This case is now closed. Sarah Precup - 10/15/2015
Susie Choi - 03/10/2017