Creating a level playing field
The Civil Rights & Employment practice group protects the rights of people who have been victims of violations of civil rights and workplace laws. Members of the practice group, and other lawyers at the firm who work in this area, have decades of experience representing victims of discrimination. Lawyers in the practice group have served as lead counsel or co-lead counsel in more than 35 civil rights and employment class actions. We have represented victims of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, in federal and state courts around the country, including the United States Supreme Court. We have tried several class action discrimination cases to juries in federal courts and argued appeals in many of the federal courts of appeal in the country.
This firm has been a pioneer in the field of civil rights. The firm was co-lead counsel in a landmark race discrimination class action against Texaco, Roberts, et al. v. Texaco, Inc., which led to a settlement valued at $176 Million and fundamental reforms to the company’s promotion policies. In addition, the firm served as counsel for a class of African American employees who challenged racial discrimination in promotions at the FDIC, in a case titled Conanan, et al. v. Tanoe, which was resolved by the largest monetary settlement of racial discrimination employment claims against the federal government. The firm also represented a nationwide class of women before the United States Supreme Court against Wal-Mart Stores, known as Dukes, et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores.
Other Civil Rights Cases
Recently, the firm reached a historic settlement between Native American farmers and ranchers and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Keepseagle v. Vilsack, which resolved a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of Native Americans alleging lending discrimination, and provides $680 million in damages, up to $80 million in foregiveness of outstanding farm loan debt, and improvements in the farm loan services USDA provides to Native Americans. In addition, the firm obtained the largest settlement ever of a lawsuit challenging barriers to accessibility in the design and construction of multi-family housing under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, in a suit against Archstone-Smith Trust. Members of the practice group have also brought class actions challenging the denial of access by minorities to places of public accommodation and discrimination against minorities in housing.
Wage and Hour Cases
The firm also represents workers who have been denied overtime in violation of the wage and hour laws. These violations, which can occur when employees’ jobs are mis-classified as exempt from overtime requirements, or when employees are required to do work for which they are not compensated, are rampant in many workplaces today. The firm serves as lead counsel in a large wage and hour case, known as In re Tyson Foods FLSA MDL, brought on behalf of chicken processing workers who were denied payment for time spent putting on, taking off and cleaning safety and protective equipment. Twenty cases involving over 40 plants were consolidated in this multi-district litigation. The court denied Tyson’s motions for summary judgment and for decertification. The firm is also co-lead counsel in a wage and hour class action against Gentiva, asserting that nurses and other home health care providers have been mis-classified as exempt from overtime eligibility.
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