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Case Name EEOC v. Foster Wheeler Constructors and Pipefitters Association Local Union 597 EE-IL-0089
Docket / Court 98 C 1601 ( N.D. Ill. )
Additional Docket(s) 1:98-cv-03217  [ 98-3217 ]  Northern District of IL (U.S.)
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection EEOC Study -- in sample
IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
This case is about workplace racial and sexual harassment. In March 1998, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. They sued Foster Wheeler Constructors, Inc. (FWCI) and Local Union 597 Pipefitters Association ... read more >
This case is about workplace racial and sexual harassment. In March 1998, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. They sued Foster Wheeler Constructors, Inc. (FWCI) and Local Union 597 Pipefitters Association (the Union) under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The EEOC alleged that construction workers were subjected to racial and sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The harassment included widespread racist and sexist graffiti in portable toilets at work sites, which the EEOC alleged created a hostile work environment for women and black workers at the job sites. They sought injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages.

On May 5, 1998 an individual plaintiff likewise brought suit, Ferguson v. Pipefitters Ass'n, No. 1:98-cv-03217, against the Union alleging racial harassment, and, as his claims were substantially the same as the EEOC’s, his case was subsequently consolidated with this case on July 17, 1998. Additionally, on June 17, 1998, that same individual plaintiff’s motion to intervene was granted against both defendants, the Union and the FWCI.

On July 6, 1999, Judge David H. Coar granted summary judgment for certain corporate entities related to FWCI and terminated them as parties in this suit. However, on July 12, 1999, Judge Coar denied FWCI's motion for summary judgment. Subsequently, FWCI settled with the plaintiffs on January 6, 2000. The Consent Decree awarded $1.325 million to be paid to approximately 100 former black and/or female employees, and the FWCI further agreed to implement equal opportunity training for its employees.

The Union pressed on with its case, and on September 13-20, 1999, a bench trial was held. In March 2002, Judge Coar entered judgment for the plaintiffs, and held that the Union's failure to implement any policy against racial harassment warranted punitive damages and injunctive relief. Judge Coar awarded compensatory damages to the EEOC on behalf of eight black workers totaling $105,000, punitive damages of $50,000, and an injunction against "permitting a hostile work environment based on race to exist for its members at any job site." 2002 WL 976618.

However, the Union appealed on April 26, 2002, and on July 1, 2003, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Union did not have an affirmative duty to prevent racial harassment or other forms of unlawful discrimination in the workplace: “if [the Union] merely fails to effectuate changes in the workplace…the Union is not guilty of discrimination, though the company is.” 334 F.3d 656.

The plaintiffs petition for a rehearing en banc, which was denied on September 1, 2004. Judge Coar entered judgment for the Union on September 9, 2004. The case is now closed.

Jason Chester - 08/07/2008
Madeline Buday - 04/07/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
EEOC Intervened in Private Suit
Private Party intervened in EEOC suit
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Foster Wheeler Constructors, Inc.
Local Union 597 Pipefitters Association
Plaintiff Description Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on behalf of one or more workers, and an individual plaintiff.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Filed 03/17/1998
Case Closing Year 2004
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing EE-IL-0304 : Ferguson v. Pipefitters Assn (N.D. Ill.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ill.
09/20/2004
1:98-cv-01601
EE-IL-0089-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Ill.
12/02/1998
Memorandum Opinion and Order [RE: Motion to Dismiss] [ECF# 77] (1998 WL 850810 / 1998 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 19114)
EE-IL-0089-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
N.D. Ill.
07/06/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Summary Judgment] (1999 WL 507397 / 1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 10565)
EE-IL-0089-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
N.D. Ill.
07/06/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Summary Judgment] (1999 WL 507191 / 1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 10610)
EE-IL-0089-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
N.D. Ill.
07/12/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Summary Judgment] (1999 WL 528192 / 1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 22956)
EE-IL-0089-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
N.D. Ill.
07/12/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Summary Judgment] (1999 WL 528196 / 1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 22955)
EE-IL-0089-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
N.D. Ill.
07/13/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Motion to Limit Claims] [ECF# 195] (1999 WL 528200 / 1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 11226)
EE-IL-0089-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
N.D. Ill.
07/14/1999
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Re: Summary Judgment] (1999 WL 515524)
EE-IL-0089-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
not recorded
01/06/2000
$1.3 Million Settlement in EEOC Racial and Sexual Harassment Suit Against Foster Wheeler Constructors
EE-IL-0089-0003.pdf | Detail
N.D. Ill.
01/12/2000
Consent Decree [ECF# 249] (2000 WL 51807)
EE-IL-0089-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
N.D. Ill.
03/28/2002
Findings of Fact [Re: Judgment] [ECF# 280] (2002 WL 976618)
EE-IL-0089-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
N.D. Ill.
03/29/2002
Judgment in a Civil Case [ECF# 281]
EE-IL-0089-0005.pdf | Detail
not recorded
06/16/2003
FY 2002 Office of General Counsel Annual Report
EE-IL-0089-0002.pdf | Detail
N.D. Ill.
09/09/2004
[Opinion] [ECF# 299]
EE-IL-0089-0001.pdf | Detail

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