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Case Name Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch, Inc. EE-CA-0278
Docket / Court 03-2817 SI ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On June 16, 2003, employees filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act against Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
On June 16, 2003, employees filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act against Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for injunctive relief, restoration of jobs or front pay benefits, back pay, exemplary and punitive damages, and attorneys' fees, alleging that Abercrombie & Fitch Management Co. had racially discriminated against potential and active employees. The plaintiffs also sought to represent a class of such employees. Specifically, they contended that Abercrombie was systematically discriminatory, subjective, and arbitrary with respect to hiring, firing, job assignment, compensation, promotion to in-store managerial positions, and conditions of employment. They alleged that Abercrombie enforced a nationwide corporate policy of preferring white employees for in-store sales and management positions, desirable job assignments, and favorable work schedules.

The EEOC, engaged in a concurrent civil action against Abercrombie, also concluded that Abercrombie was in violation of Title VII. According to the PACER docket, on November 12, 2004, the case was consolidated with two EEOC cases: EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch and West v. Abercrombie and Fitch. This expanded the complaint to include charges of discrimination against women as well as minorities.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Maria-Elena James, who then signed the order re-assigning the case to Judge Susan Illston for all further proceedings. The plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint on August 18, 2003, alleging the same substantial facts and claims but adding three named plaintiffs and three defendants. They filed a second amended complaint on January 9, 2004 to include Title VII claims. The third amended complaint, filed on May 17, 2004, added individual gender discrimination claims on behalf of two of the named plaintiffs.

The fourth amended complaint was filed on November 8, 2004. According to the fourth amended complaint, the plaintiffs sought to represent a class of people applying to and working within Abercrombie & Fitch who faced discrimination due to their race, color, and/or national origin since February 24, 1999.

After negotiations during court-ordered mediation, on November 16, 2004, the court certified a settlement class. And on April 14, 2005 the court (Judge Susan Illston) approved the consent decree. In this settlement agreement, Abercrombie was required to pay $40 million to class members, to pay attorney fees, and to implement extensive new policies and programs that promoted equal employment and diversity amongst employees, subject to the approval of a court-appointed monitor. In exchange, the plaintiffs agreed to release Abercrombie from all related claims. The parties stipulated that the consent decree did not constitute an admission of liability. The consent decree was to remain in effect for a period of six years until April 14, 2011. In addition, the parties agreed to the appointment of a Special Master in charge of dispute resolution and enforcement procedures under the consent decree.

On August 28, 2009, the plaintiffs initiated dispute resolution proceedings to assert that Abercrombie had failed to comply with its hiring obligations under the decree. The Special Master made a decision on April 15, 2011 that ordered Abercrombie to make an adverse impact review and assessment of its selection criteria, but denied the plaintiff’s request that Abercrombie implement alternative selection criteria and extend the consent decree. The plaintiffs challenged the Special Master’s decision. Judge Illston affirmed on June 23, 2011 and ordered Abercrombie to submit a report of the adverse impact review to the plaintiffs and the Court after completion. 2011 WL 2516621. As of April 2011, the period of the consent decree ended and the case is now closed

Emily Kuznick - 04/08/2008
Julia Florey - 04/12/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law
Provide antidiscrimination training
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Utilize objective job description
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Private Suit Related / Consolidated with EEOC Suit
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Asian/Pacific Islander
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
State Anti-Discrimination Law
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Abercrombie & Fitch
Plaintiff Description People applying to and working within Abercrombie & Fitch who faced discrimination due to their race, color, and/or national origin
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2005 - 2011
Filing Year 2003
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
3:03-cv-02817-SI (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0278-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/06/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint (2003 WL 23687870)
EE-CA-0278-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/16/2003
Fourth Amended Complaint [ECF# 92]
EE-CA-0278-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer to Fourth Amended Complaint
EE-CA-0278-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/11/2004
Motion for Settlement [ECF# 125]
EE-CA-0278-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/11/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree
EE-CA-0278-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2005
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Judges Illston, Susan Yvonne (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0278-0001 | EE-CA-0278-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alexander, Elizabeth A. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0278-0001 | EE-CA-0278-0009 | EE-CA-0278-0011 | EE-CA-0278-9000
Bolden, Victor A. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0278-9000
Brown, Willis E. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0278-9000
Cervantez, Eve Hedy (California) show/hide docs
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Clobes, Bryan L (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Cohen, Hilary (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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D'Urso, Martin J. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Dermody, Kelly M. (California) show/hide docs
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Drieband, Eric S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0278-0001
Duarte, Lisa (California) show/hide docs
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Fields, Cleo (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Forrester, Melody (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Gold, Sidney L. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Goldstein, Barry L (California) show/hide docs
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Gottesman, Zachary (Ohio) show/hide docs
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Greenberg, Traci M. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Keller, James (Ohio) show/hide docs
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Kohn, Joseph C. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Lee, Bill Lann (California) show/hide docs
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Lee, Jack W. (California) show/hide docs
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Lee, James L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Lerner, Jeffrey D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Liberto, Diana (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Nanda, Jyoti (California) show/hide docs
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Ota, John (California) show/hide docs
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Park, Minah (California) show/hide docs
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Reams, Gwendolyn Young (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Saenz, Thomas A. (California) show/hide docs
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Sagafi, Jahan C (California) show/hide docs
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Sekhon, Nirej S. (California) show/hide docs
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Simons, Shaheena Ahmad (California) show/hide docs
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Su, Julie A (California) show/hide docs
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West-Faulcon, Kimberly (California) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Anderson, Sandra J. (Ohio) show/hide docs
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Dexter, Douglas Evans (California) show/hide docs
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Gochanour, Gregory M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Kearney, Sandra A. (California) show/hide docs
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Knueve, Mark A. (Ohio) show/hide docs
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McKinney, Patrick R. (California) show/hide docs
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Park, Anna Y. (California) show/hide docs
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Ridgley, Thomas Brennan (Ohio) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0278-0001 | EE-CA-0278-0010 | EE-CA-0278-9000
Young, Douglas R. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0278-0010 | EE-CA-0278-9000

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