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Case Name EEOC v. SPITZER MANAGEMENT, INC. EE-OH-0066
Docket / Court 1:06-cv-02337-AA ( N.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
The Philadelphia District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought this lawsuit against Spitzer Management, Inc., an auto dealership, in September 2006 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The case was assigned to Judge Ann Aldrich. The complaint ... read more >
The Philadelphia District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought this lawsuit against Spitzer Management, Inc., an auto dealership, in September 2006 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The case was assigned to Judge Ann Aldrich. The complaint alleged that Spitzer management had created a hostile work environment for employees by harassing a Nigerian complainant, a Korean complainant, and other employees based on their national origin in violation of Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e). The complaint also alleged that Spitzer constructively discharged the Korean employee on the basis of his ethnicity. The EEOC sought injunctive and monetary relief for the complainants.

On June 26, 2008, the EEOC filed another lawsuit against the defendant alleging racial discrimination and retaliation on behalf of a different employee. On September 19, 2008, the parties filed a joint motion with the court asking that the two cases be consolidated for the purpose of discovery and trial.

On February 24, 2009, two of the complaining employees filed motions to intervene. Since neither the plaintiff nor the defendant opposed the motion to intervene, the court granted the motion.

The two intervenors filed an amended complaint on April 12, 2010. This complaint alleged that the defendants discriminated on the basis of race and national origin and retaliated against the intervenor plaintiffs. These plaintiffs, represented by their own private counsel, sought injunctive, monetary, and declaratory relief, claiming violations of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Ohio Revised Code § 4112 as well as abuse of process. The plaintiffs’ abuse of process claim alleged that the defendants brought lawsuits against these plaintiffs to dissuade them from engaging in protected activity such as opposing illegal discrimination and retaliation.

On May 6, 2010, Judge John R. Adams replaced Judge Aldrich on the case. And then, on October 20, 2010, the court ordered that this lawsuit be consolidated with three other cases, all of which were brought by the EEOC alleging that the defendant's Motor City dealership had engaged in discrimination in violation of Title VII. This case, however, served as the leading case.

On September 7, 2010, the defendant filed separate motions for summary judgment on each claim before the court. Judge Adams granted in part and denied in part the motion. 866 F. Supp. 2d 851. Specifically, he found that there was no evidence: of pervasive harassment against the Yemeni employee; that the Yemeni employee was constructively discharged; that there was no evidence of a causal connection between the Nigerian employee's filing an EEOC charge and his suspension; and that there was no evidence suggesting that the president of the defendant company was involved in any of the plaintiffs' discipline. However, Judge Adams did find that there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial regarding the severity and pervasiveness of the defendant's conduct toward the Korean employee; the Korean employee's alleged constructive discharge; the employer's alleged failure to exercise reasonable care in preventing the harassment of the Korean employee; and the abuse of process claim.

On January 14, 2013, a jury trial began. During the course of the trial, the plaintiff objected to certain documents presented by the defendants. On January 22, the plaintiff moved for a mistrial and a default judgment against the defendants, alleging the defendants had engaged in 'gamesmanship' through the "last-minute production and misrepresentation regarding the investigatory notes" that had been central to the case. On January 23, the court declared a mistrial. On May 22, 2013, the court denied the plaintiff’s request for default judgment, however, the court awarded attorney fees and costs to the plaintiffs as sanctions against the defendants. 2013 WL 2250757.

The court arrived at this sanction after coming to three conclusions. First, the defendants’ failure to produce the original documents to the plaintiffs during discovery was not an act of negligence. It was intentional. The court arrived at this conclusion when it observed that in less than 24 hours, only after the court demanded the documents, the defendants were able to locate and produce the documents. These documents were documents that the plaintiff requested during discovery. The defendants gave no reasons for withholding the documents.

Second, the defendants’ misconduct deprived the plaintiffs of meaningful discovery, which prevent the plaintiffs from being able to meaningfully prepare for trial. The withheld documents were files that the defendants had on their employees. More specifically, these documents contained information on employee evaluations, hiring and firing information. The court deemed these documents as relevant for discovery and the trial.

And finally, the court declared that the sanction of attorney fees and costs was more appropriate than granting a default judgment. The court reasoned that a default judgment would have constituted a windfall in favor of the plaintiffs. In other words, the judgment would benefit the plaintiffs more than they deserved. To the court, the evidence that the court observed was not strong enough to grant the plaintiffs a default judgment.

The court ordered the following attorney fees and costs for the defendant to pay: $49,000 to the EEOC, $148,920 to one plaintiff, and $115,395 to another (this amount was later adjusted to $130,415).

The parties then began preparing for retrial, with a special master overseeing discovery.

Before the second attempt at a trial, the parties reached a settlement. On September 12, 2013, the court approved the parties’ consent decree. This decree was set to last for five years and the court retained jurisdiction to enforce it. The consent decree had the following terms:
1) the defendants were prohibited from engaging in employment discrimination and retaliation;
2) the defendants had to pay $50,000 to each plaintiff and intervenor;
3) the defendants had to develop anti-discrimination policies, anti-harassment policies, and complaint procedures;
4) the defendants had to provide management accountability concerning discrimination and retaliation;
5) the defendants were required to offer anti-discrimination training;
6) the defendants had to report to the EEOC on any employment discrimination and/or retaliation complaints filed to the defendants; and
7) the defendants had to post a notice of the decree in all their employment establishments and ensure it was visible to all its employees.

There was no further litigation during the span of the consent decree, so the case is presumably closed.

Shankar Viswanathan - 05/29/2008
Sean Whetstone - 05/29/2018
Hope Brinn - 02/06/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
Religion discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
Private Party intervened in EEOC suit
General
Disparate Treatment
National Origin/Ethnicity
Other
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Race
Asian/Pacific Islander
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
State Anti-Discrimination Law
State law
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Spitzer Management, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on behalf of one or more workers that were allegedly victims of retaliation and discrimination on basis of their national origin.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2013 - 2018
Filed 09/27/2006
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:06-cv-02337-AA (N.D. Ohio)
EE-OH-0066-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/03/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint
EE-OH-0066-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/27/2006
Amended Complaint and Jury Demand
EE-OH-0066-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/10/2007
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 25] (N.D. Ohio)
EE-OH-0066-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/24/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint of Plaintiff-Intervenor [ECF# 28]
EE-OH-0066-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint of Plaintiff-Intervenors [ECF# 77]
EE-OH-0066-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/12/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Opinion and Order [ECF# 214] (866 F.Supp.2d 851) (N.D. Ohio)
EE-OH-0066-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/30/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 321] (N.D. Ohio)
EE-OH-0066-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/23/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 336] (2013 WL 2250757) (N.D. Ohio)
EE-OH-0066-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/22/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 353] (N.D. Ohio)
EE-OH-0066-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/12/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Adams, John R. (N.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-0006 | EE-OH-0066-0007 | EE-OH-0066-0008 | EE-OH-0066-0009 | EE-OH-0066-9000
Aldrich, Ann (N.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-0003
Monitors/Masters Cohen, David Rosenblum (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Besser, Matthew D. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Bolek, Cathleen M. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-0004 | EE-OH-0066-0005 | EE-OH-0066-9000
Clickner, M. Jean (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Glesius, Amy S. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-0004 | EE-OH-0066-0005 | EE-OH-0066-9000
Lohr, Carole A. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-0005 | EE-OH-0066-9000
Mays, Lawrence (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
McMillan, Solvita A. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-0009 | EE-OH-0066-9000
McNair, Jacqueline H. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
O'Boyle, Judith A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Royer, Christina M. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Watson, C. Larry (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Williams-Alexander, Donna L. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cook, D. Christopher (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-0009 | EE-OH-0066-9000
Giardini, Anthony B. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Griffith, Patricia (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000
Scully, William F. Jr. (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-OH-0066-9000

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