University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name EEOC v. Sara Lee Corporation EE-SD-0009
Docket / Court 4:06-cv-04176-LLP ( D.S.D. )
State/Territory South Dakota
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection EEOC Study -- in sample
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
The Chicago and Minneapolis offices of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this suit against Sara Lee Corporation, in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota on September 26, 2006. The case was assigned to Judge Lawrence Piersol. The complaint, brought under ... read more >
The Chicago and Minneapolis offices of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought this suit against Sara Lee Corporation, in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota on September 26, 2006. The case was assigned to Judge Lawrence Piersol. The complaint, brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleged that the Corporation had engaged in racial discrimination against employees. More specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendant discriminated against three black former Sara Lee employees by failing to promote them because of their race. The EEOC sought injunctive and monetary relief for the claimants.

The claimants subsequently filed complaints as intervenor plaintiffs on December 12, 2006. In addition to the claims included in the EEOC complaint, the intervenor complaint alleged that the defendant retaliated against the claimants for complaining about the discrimination, the defendant created a hostile work environment, and the defendant constructively discharged the claimants. The intervenor complaint also made claims under South Dakota law. Neither the EEOC nor Sara Lee objected to the intervention, and the court granted intervention on February 6, 2007.

On June 29, 2007, the EEOC filed an amended complaint, removing all reference to one of the intervenor plaintiffs because it decided that using public resources to recover this plaintiff’s victim-specific relief would be inappropriate.

On November 25, 2008, the parties reached a settlement agreement and filed a proposed consent decree. Six days later, the court approved the consent decree. The consent decree required Sara Lee to provide African-American employees with the same training and conditions of employment as all its other employees and enjoined Sara Lee from retaliating against employees for asserting their Title VII rights. Sara Lee also had to reform its internal complaint procedures and hiring/promotion procedures, as well as provide anti-discrimination training sessions to its managers and supervisors. To ensure compliance, Sara Lee had to report back to the EEOC annually with a certification of compliance, as well as notify the EEOC of any complaints of race discrimination or retaliation. Additionally, Sara Lee agreed to pay $245,000 in damages, to be distributed among the three claimants. The duration of the consent decree was two years, during which the court retained jurisdiction to enforce its terms.

On December 8, 2008, the court dismissed this case with prejudice. The order of dismissal is the final entry in the docket; there is nothing to suggest noncompliance with the consent decree. So, the case presumably closed in December 2010 with the expiration of the consent decree.

Justin Kanter - 06/02/2008
Rebecca Strauss - 07/02/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Promotion
Provide antidiscrimination training
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Utilize objective job description
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
Private Party intervened in EEOC suit
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action State law
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Sara Lee Corporation
Plaintiff Description Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on behalf of three Sara Lee employees who alleged that they were denied promotions because they were black.
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 Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2008 - 2010
Filing Year 2006
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
4:06-cv-04176-LLP (D.S.D.)
EE-SD-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/08/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint
EE-SD-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2006
Intervenor's Complaint
EE-SD-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/12/2006
EEOC's Amended Complaint
EE-SD-0009-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2007
Protective Order for Confidentiality (D.S.D.)
EE-SD-0009-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/20/2007
Consent Decree [ECF# 140] (D.S.D.)
EE-SD-0009-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Exhibit A: Notice to Employees [ECF# 140-2] (D.S.D.)
EE-SD-0009-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Piersol, Lawrence L. (D.S.D.)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-0007 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hendrickson, John C. (Illinois)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Hoy, Scott G. (South Dakota)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Kamp, Jean P. (Illinois)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Strain, Micheal W. (South Dakota)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Vasichek, Laurie A. (Minnesota)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Connolly, Katie M (Minnesota)
EE-SD-0009-9000
Leonard, Michael I. (Illinois)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Lewis, Donald M (Minnesota)
EE-SD-0009-9000
Lindsey, Kevin M (Minnesota)
EE-SD-0009-9000
Marso, Lisa Hansen (South Dakota)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000
Tilson, Joseph E (Illinois)
EE-SD-0009-0006 | EE-SD-0009-9000

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