University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name EEOC v. Bell Gas, Inc. (AWC Propane) EE-NM-0013
Docket / Court CIV 02 1212 LCS/KBM ( D.N.M. )
State/Territory New Mexico
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On September 26, 2002, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. Brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC filed this lawsuit on behalf of an employee of ABC Propane against ABC Propane, ... read more >
On September 26, 2002, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. Brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC filed this lawsuit on behalf of an employee of ABC Propane against ABC Propane, as well as Bell Gas and Cortez Gas Company. The plaintiff sought injunctive and monetary relief, alleging that the individual employee had been retaliated against after she filed an earlier discrimination complaint with the EEOC.

Specifically, the September 26 complaint alleged that before June 17, 2002, the individual employee had filed an employment discrimination charge with the EEOC against Ballew Distributing, a company that shared common management and ownership with both defendants in this case. Then, the employee began working for defendant, ABC Propane, around June 17, 2002. Around June 19, 2002, defendants’ management officials discovered the employee had filed an EEOC discrimination charge and allegedly fired her.

On September 26, 2002, the EEOC also followed up on the employee’s charge against Ballew and filed another lawsuit, 02-cv-1213 on behalf of the employee. In that suit, the plaintiff alleged that the employee was subjected to a hostile work environment at Ballew based on her gender. These two cases were originally consolidated for pretrial purposes by Judge Bruce D. Black on June 16, 2003. He held that these cases involved common questions of law or fact, and that consolidating them would make discovery more efficient. He reserved a determination on whether these two cases should be tried separately.

On December 24, 2003 each defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. Defendant ABC argued that the employee’s termination was not the result of retaliation. Judge Black denied the motion. Defendants Bell Gas and Cortez argued they were not the claimant’s employer and therefore could not be held liable. Judge Black rejected this argument and dismissed Bell Gas and Cortez’s motions for summary judgement as well.

Meanwhile, in 02-cv-1213, Judge James A. Parker entered a consent decree on January 14, 2004 granting the claimant’s co-worker $20,000 and dismissing the case as pertaining to the claimant’s co-worker.

On March 26, 2004 Judge Black referred the consolidated case to Magistrate Judge Lourdes A. Martinez to decide whether these two cases should remain consolidated for all purposes, including trial. Magistrate Judge Martinez recommended that the cases should not be consolidated because the two cases involved different claims, different parties, different elements of damages, the witnesses in the two cases would testify to different facts, and the defendant parties are different in each case. Judge Black affirmed Magistrate Judge Martinez’s decision on July 14, 2004 and set a trial for this case for September 7, 2004.

On September 22, 2004, Judge William P. Johnson, writing for Judge Black, entered a consent decree describing monetary and injunctive relief for the claimant. She was awarded $36,000 and all defendants were ordered to undergo specific training that had been required by a consent decree in another, also related case, 02-cv-1090. The specific training included distribution of the sexual harassment policy to all employees, and for each defendant company to retain and pay a lecturer to conduct an annual training about sexual harassment and retaliation that all employees were required to attend for the first year. Additionally, all defendants were required to report any changes in their sexual harassment and retaliation policy, as well as the results of the training to the Regional Attorney of the Commission’s Albuquerque Office at least once every 6 months for two years. This two year period has passed, and the case is now closed.

Caitlin Hatakeyama - 09/28/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
General
Disparate Treatment
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) ABC Propane Incorporated
Bell Gas Incorporated
Cortez Gas Company
Plaintiff Description Female employee of ABC Propane Inc. who was terminated in retaliation for reporting her previous employer's sexual harassment to the EEOC.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
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 2004 - 2006
Filing Year 2002
Case Closing Year 2006
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing EE-NM-0014 : EEOC v. Bell Gas and Ballew Distributing (D.N.M.)
EE-NM-0015 : EEOC v. Bell Gas, Inc. (D.N.M.)
Docket(s)
1:02-cv-01212-BB-LAM (D.N.M.)
EE-NM-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/22/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition
EE-NM-0013-0008.pdf | Detail
Date:
Complaint
EE-NM-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2002
Complaint
EE-NM-0013-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2002
Order Consolidating Actions (D.N.M.)
EE-NM-0013-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/16/2003
Order (D.N.M.)
EE-NM-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/31/2003
Consent Decree Pertaining to Claimint Cheri Brisco Only
EE-NM-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/14/2004
Memorandum Opinion and Order (D.N.M.)
EE-NM-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/20/2004
Judges Martinez, Lourdes A. (D.N.M.) [Magistrate]
EE-NM-0013-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Medina, Loretta (New Mexico)
EE-NM-0013-0007
Molina, Veronica A. (Arizona)
EE-NM-0013-0007
O'Neill, Mary Jo (Arizona)
EE-NM-0013-0007
Reams, Gwendolyn Young (District of Columbia)
EE-NM-0013-0007
Smith, C. Emanuel (Alabama)
EE-NM-0013-0007

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