New York Grocery Chain Settles Disparate Treatment Class Claims For $1.45M

by Tara Arick on June 27, 2013 · 0 comments

in Labor and Employment Law

- From LexisNexis® Mealey’s™ Daily Legal News.

A chain of New York City grocery stores will pay $ 1.45 million in cash and gift cards to settle claims that it discriminated against female applicants, under a settlement agreement granted final approval on June 19 (Susan Duling, et al. v. Gristede’s Operating Corp., et al., No. 06-10197, S.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87126).

On Oct. 23, 2006, Margaret Anderson filed a class complaint against her former employers: Gristede’s Operating Corp., Red Apple Group Inc.

doing business as Gristede’s, Gristede’s Food Inc., Gristede’s Delivery Service Inc., Gristede’s Foods NY Inc., Gristede’s NY LLC, NAMDOR Inc. and John Catsimatidis. The defendants own and operate Gristede’s supermarkets in New York City.

Anderson, who worked part-time as a cashier, alleged in the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York disparate treatment and disparate impact under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). Anderson claimed that the defendants steered women who applied for work at Gristede’s supermarkets into part-time cashier jobs with little or no prospect for transfers or promotions into management-track positions. She also alleged that women were denied promotion in favor of men and were paid less than them.

Anderson later amended her complaint and added Susan Duling and Lakeya Sewer as named plaintiffs. Sewer brought an individual claim of discrimination based on her gender and pregnancy and a claim for interference with her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Class Certification

The plaintiffs moved for class certification on Jan. 30, 2009. On March 8, 2010, the District Court certified a class of all current and former female Gristede’s employees who worked for Gristede’s anytime between Nov. 2, 2004, and the date of final judgment.

In May 2012, the parties reached a settlement involving a settlement fund of $ 1.45 million ($ 500,000 in the form of fully redeemable Gristede’s store gift cards) and corrective measures. The District Court granted preliminary approval of the settlement on Nov. 15. Settlement notices were sent to all class members the following month. No class members objected to the terms, and only one class member asked to be excluded.

The plaintiffs moved for final certification of the settlement class and final approval of the settlement on March 1.

Final Certification

Granting final certification, Judge Laura Taylor Swain certified a class of all women who worked for Gristede’s for at least 90 days between Nov. 2, 2004, and Nov. 14, 2012. Settlement funds will be distributed based on the amount of time each class member worked for Gristede’s. Under the settlement, the claims administrator will determine each qualified class member’s proportionate share of the fund and proportion of monetary payment to gift cards with the goal of having the proportion similar for each person.

The settlement also provides corrective measures including the prohibition of steering female employees into certain positions, the posting of all job opening and job requirements, maintenance of job descriptions that do not discriminate against female employees, human resources oversight of hiring and promotion policies and practices, establishment of a monitoring mechanism and a dispute resolution mechanism to address and resolve any disputes that arise during the settlement term.

Counsel

Adam T. Klein, Cara E. Greene, Justin M. Swartz, Piper Hoffman, Delyanne Barros, Lewis M. Steel and Rachel M. Bien of Outten & Golden represent the plaintiffs.

Kevin J. Nash and Joseph T. Donovan of Finkel, Goldstein, Rosenbloom & Nash; Amanda N. Slatin, Christopher A. Parlo and Michael J. Puma of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Emily R. Pankow of Red Apple Group Inc. represent the defendants.

All are in New York.

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