On April 15, 2003, two African American employees of AK Steel Corporation brought this action in the Western District of Pennsylvania under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for compensatory and punitive ...
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On April 15, 2003, two African American employees of AK Steel Corporation brought this action in the Western District of Pennsylvania under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, claiming that AK Steel had discriminated against them because of their race. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that AK Steel had permitted its employees to use racial slurs and display racially divisive symbols without punishment. Plaintiffs further claimed they were denied opportunities for promotions and training that were not denied to their white coworkers, and that their supervisors discriminated on the basis of performance demands, job assignments, personal deportment, and other conditions of employment. Finally, Plaintiffs accused AK Steel of being willfully blind to their complaints and retaliating against African American employees through forced suspensions from employment or discharge for complaining about the work environment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission instituted a related action on September 8, 2003 against AK Steel, seeking relief for eight employees, including the plaintiffs in the instant case (see EEOC v. AK Steel Corporation, EE-PA-0215 on this site). The cases were consolidated on August 26, 2004. One of the named plaintiffs in this action filed an additional complaint against AK Steel on May 21, 2005. That action was consolidated with this case on September 11, 2006.
On May 1, 2006, the District Court (Judge Cercone) denied AK Steel's motion for summary judgment. Lake v. AK Steel Corp., 2006 WL 1158610 (W.D. Pa. 2006). The parties reached a settlement agreement on January 31, 2007. The three-year settlement agreement includes anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation clauses, and a confidentiality clause regarding the private plaintiffs' and complainants' involvement in the case. The agreement requires AK Steel Corporation to post notice of the agreement in its Butler location, maintain records of all incidents of racial harassment, and make these records available to the EEOC within ten days of request. The EEOC is also permitted to interview any employee of AK Steel Corporation after five days notice. AK Steel Corporation must provide a training session for all employees, including separate training for supervisory and managerial personnel. New employees must receive training during new employee orientation. Training sessions must be conducted by an EEOC approved trainer. The decree includes a "notice and chance to remedy" dispute resolution process. AK Steel Corporation agreed to pay a total of $550,000. One private plaintiff was awarded $360,000 and the other private plaintiff was awarded $100,000. One non-party complainant was awarded $100,000 and 5 other non-party complainants were each awarded $38,000.Jennifer Gitter - 03/20/2013