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Case Name EEOC v. IBEW Local 3 EE-NY-0084
Docket / Court 1:84-cv-03373-WK-NRB ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On May 14, 1984, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of blacks and women who were impacted by education and age requirements for admission to electrician apprenticeship programs. The EEOC ... read more >
On May 14, 1984, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of blacks and women who were impacted by education and age requirements for admission to electrician apprenticeship programs. The EEOC sued four trade associations and unions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alleging sex and race discrimination. It sought money damages and an injunction forbidding the defendants from using certain criteria for admission to electrician apprenticeship programs. Specifically, the EEOC alleged that the defendant’s requirement of a high-school diploma and maximum age of 22 (discontinued in 1985) had a discriminatory impact, respectively, on blacks and women.

There were four defendants. Two were terminated early in the lawsuit: the Joint Board of N.Y. Electrical Contractors Association and the New York Electrical Contractors Association, Inc. The remaining defendants were the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 3 (IBEW Local 3) and the Joint Apprenticeship Committee of the Joint Board of Electrical Industry (JAC), an organization handling training programs for electricians that the IBEW Local 3 and other trade organizations created.

The case was assigned to Judge Whitman Knapp and Magistrate Judge Naomi Buchwald. After extensive discovery, Judge Knapp granted summary judgment for the plaintiff. The defendants appealed to the Second Circuit, which reversed the trial court’s decision on January 31, 1990. Circuit Judge Amalya L. Kearse, joined by Judges Frank X. Altimari and J. Daniel Mahoney, found that the district court’s decision “appears not to conform to the applicable legal standard” because it did not consider whether any causal link existed between the disparate outcomes in electrician apprenticeship admissions based on race and sex and the defendants’ education and age requirements. The court of appeals vacated the district court’s decision and remanded the case. 895 F.2d 86.

The EEOC then renewed its motion for summary judgment. On August 31, 1993, Judge Knapp granted partial summary judgment for EEOC on the question of liability, holding that the EEOC made out prima facie case that programs' high school diploma requirement and 22-year age limit had discriminatory impact on blacks and women. Specifically, regarding education, Judge Knapp explained that difference between the percentage of blacks turned away from the programs in question compared to the percentage of whites is statistically significant and shows disparate impact. Moreover, that the percentage of blacks among the total applicants to the programs was significantly lower than the percentage of blacks in the pool of potential applicants also shows disparate impact. Regarding age, Judge Knapp explained that EEOC's statistics demonstrate that a significantly greater percentage of female applicants than male applicants were over the age of 22. Moreover, he found that the EEOC had demonstrated a causal nexus between the challenged practices and the statistical disparities. 828 F. Supp. 264.

The EEOC then moved for an order enjoining JAC from using high school graduation or equivalency, or the age maximum of 22, as a prerequisite for admission into its apprentice training program. Judge Knapp denied this motion on November 1, 1993, but the docket does not show his reasons for the denial.

The case then entered a multi-year period to determine damages. The parties and Magistrate Judge Buchwald worked between October 1993 and June 1997 to determine the backpay due to the claimants. However, she denied backpay to several claimants who had earned more in other jobs than they would have earned as electricians with the same seniority. Judge Knapp largely approved Magistrate Judge Buchwald’s decisions. 1996 WL 345873; 1996 WL 509682.

Judge Knapp disposed of many of the outstanding issues in a June 16, 1997 order. First, Judge Knapp issued an injunction prohibiting JAC from imposing a maximum age requirement of 22. Second, Judge Knapp—without explanation—denied the EEOC’s motion for a similar injunction with respect to JAC’s requirement of either a high school diploma or GED. Third, Judge Knapp denied backpay to six women and granted a seventh $51,662.81.

In August 1997, the EEOC appealed and JAC cross-appealed the decision. The Second Circuit (Warren W. Eginton, I. Leo Glasser, and Barrington D. Parker), in a December 24, 1998 opinion, declared itself “troubled by the longevity of this litigation,” but found that the district court “misread[] this Court’s imprecise 1990 ruling” and erroneously prevented JAC from introducing evidence as to business justification for its practices. It again reversed and remanded the case to the district court. Judge Glasser would have upheld the district court’s decision, arguing that the district court’s original, 1989 decision “reflects a studied analysis” of the relevant statistics. 164 F.3d 89. The Second Circuit issued an amended opinion on July 9, 1999, reaching the same conclusions. 186 F.3d 110.

Rather than engage in another round of litigation at the district court, the parties worked to resolve their dispute out of court. On September 29, 2000, Judge Knapp approved a Consent Decree between EEOC and JAC. The Consent Decree judgment explained that JAC agreed to compensate women and minorities who were allegedly subject to discrimination by JAC's policies. The records do not show the amount of the compensation. The Decree was set to remain in effect for three years, and then be terminated without further action by the court or the parties. Each party paid its own attorney's fees and costs incurred, and no party was deemed to be a prevailing party with respect to any of the issues in this action.

Judge Knapp administratively closed the case in 2000, and the docket does not indicate that either party brought disputes over the consent decree to the court during the next three years before the decree was set to expire.

Lisa Koo - 06/10/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Race discrimination
Sex discrimination
Direct Suit on Merits
Disparate Impact
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 3
Joint Apprenticeship Committee
Plaintiff Description The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of blacks and women who were impacted by certain education and age requirements for admission to electrician apprenticeship programs.
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
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2000 - 2003
Filed 05/14/1984
Case Closing Year 2003
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
EE-NY-0084-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (895 F.2d 86)
EE-NY-0084-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order [ECF# 113] (828 F.Supp. 264)
EE-NY-0084-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 143] (1996 WL 274053)
EE-NY-0084-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 147] (1996 WL 345873)
EE-NY-0084-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (164 F.3d 89)
EE-NY-0084-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion (186 F.3d 110)
EE-NY-0084-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
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Judges Buchwald, Naomi Reice (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Eginton, Warren William (D. Conn.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0084-0003 | EE-NY-0084-0006
Kearse, Amalya Lyle (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
Knapp, Percy Whitman (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-NY-0084-0002 | EE-NY-0084-0004 | EE-NY-0084-0005 | EE-NY-0084-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Graziano, Louis (New York) show/hide docs
Kramer, Cheryl (New York) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Byrne, Edward Thomas (New York) show/hide docs
Rothfeld, Norman (New York) show/hide docs

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