NOTICE OF PENDENCY OF CLASS ACTION, PROPOSED SETTLEMENT, AND FAIRNESS HEARING
- Zollicoffer, et al. v. Gold Standard Baking, Inc., et al., Case No. 13-cv-01524 (“GSB Matter”)
- Eagle, et al. v. Vee Pak, Inc., et al., Case No. 12-cv-09672 (“Vee Pak Matter”)
PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE: If you are African American and sought a work assignment at MVP at its Cicero, Illinois office located at 5637 W Roosevelt Rd, Cicero, IL 60804 between January 1, 2011 through October 21, 2013 or between February 27, 2011 through December 31, 2014, but on one or more occasion were not assigned to work at Gold Standard Baking and/or Vee Pak, the settlement of a class action lawsuit and the partial settlement of another class action lawsuit may affect you. The Fairness Hearing will be held on Friday, April 7, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. (CDT) in Courtroom 1419 of the U.S. District Court, 219 S. Dearborn, Chicago, IL.
A federal court has authorized this Notice. This Notice is not a solicitation from a lawyer. You are not being sued.
Background on the Lawsuits
Increasingly, our economy depends on staffing agencies to recruit and place candidates in jobs at a broad range of employers. Charged with the critical responsibility of identifying, recruiting, and screening candidates, staffing agencies function as the gate keepers for workers’ access to many jobs. At the same time, staffing agencies serve the employers to which they refer candidates for employment by applying the employers’ preferences and criteria for candidates to fill the open jobs. As there are many staffing agencies competing for the same referral business, the pressures are great to implement any and all preferences employers express for candidates that are referred.
A number of leading civil rights and labor experts believe that racial discrimination has become rampant in the temporary staffing industry, where placements are at an all-time high of nearly three millions workers per month (up from 1 million in 1990), according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Investigation into this industry has in fact revealed that some employers, and the staffing agencies recruiting candidates for them, have clandestinely declined qualified African American candidates for vacant jobs.
Starting on December 6, 2016, Cohen Milstein, along with the Workers’ Law Office of Chicago, filed several putative class actions on behalf of African-American workers, against Personnel Staffing Group dba MVP Staffing, which operates over 60 job placement offices in nearly 40 states. The complaints alleges eight counts of race-based discrimination against MVP and seven of its clients served out of MVP’s office in Cicero, IL, just outside of Chicago—including a plastics manufacturer, an auto-parts maker, a commercial printing and marketing firm, and two large-scale food processors. The thrust of the lawsuits -- MVP complied with a request from these clients not to assign African-American workers as temporary workers.
In all of the cases, plaintiffs detail calculated efforts by MVP to recruit Latino workers over African-Americans through targeted advertising, transportation, and Spanish-only training materials, and accuse hiring supervisors of using code words to differentiate between African-American and Hispanic laborers, conducting criminal background checks on only black workers, and suggesting that African-Americans were less desirable employees. If MVP did assign an African-American, they often were marked “DNR” (Do Not Return) during or at the end of their first shift.
Across three remaining active lawsuits, Plaintiffs allege that at least seven of MVP’s clients—including a plastics manufacturer, an auto-parts maker, a commercial printing and marketing firm, and two large-scale food processors—indicated they did not want African-American workers assigned as temporary workers. In the Vee Pak litigation, Plaintiffs further allege that staffing agencies Staffing Network Holdings, Inc. and Alternative Staffing, d/b/a ASI, just like MVP, complied with an illicit request from client Vee Pak to not assign African-American workers for day-laborer work.
“The allegations in this case demonstrate a clear and disturbing pattern of race-based discrimination, denying low- and middle-income employment opportunities to people because they are African-American,” said Joseph Sellers, Chair of the Civil Rights and Employment Practice at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “These companies are violating the civil rights of individuals who are trying to earn a decent living wage.”
Status of the Cases
Plaintiffs in each of these cases—which are in various stages of litigation—are also represented by Cohen Milstein and the Workers’ Law Office in Chicago.
Eagle v. Vee-Pak, Inc., No. 1:2012cv09672 (N.D. Ill.)*
On December 7, 2022, the court granted preliminary approval of a settlement against Personnel Staffing Group (“PSG”), and on February 23, 2023, the court granted class certification for the PSG settlement. On September 19, 2018, the court granted final approval of a class settlement between plaintiffs and Alternative Staffing, Inc. (ASI). Evidence produced as part of the ASI settlement has effectively changed the course of the litigation against the remaining defendants in this race discrimination case brought by African-American laborers and involving novel joint employer issues.
This case was originally named Lucas v. Vee-Pak, Inc. No. 1:2012cv09672 (N.D. Ill.)*
Zollicoffer v. Gold Standard Baking, Inc., No. 13 C 1524 (N.D. Ill.)
On October 2, 2022, parties in this litigation agreed to a $1 million settlement to end the litigation. On March 31, 2020, the Honorable Sara L. Ellis for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted class certification to a group of African American workers who filed this race-based employment discrimination class action against Defendants Gold Standard Baking, Inc. (“GSB”) and Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, doing business as Most Valuable Personnel (“MVP”).
Pruitt v. Personnel Staffing Group, LLC, No. 1:16-cv-05079 (N.D. Ill.)
Plaintiffs intend to seek certification this year of a class of African-American workers who sought work out of MVP’s Waukegan office, but were not assigned to certain client companies based on their race
Lucas, et al. v. Ferrara Candy Company, et al., No. 1:13-cv-01525 (N.D. Ill.)
Plaintiffs filed suit against Remedial Environmental Manpower, Inc. (REM Staffing), Labor Power, Inc., and Ferrara Candy Co.—the maker of lemonheads and several other popular candies—in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2013. On November 29, 2016, the Court approved a settlement in this case, Lucas v. Ferrara Candy Co., for $1,500,000.00.
Hunt v. Pers. Staffing Grp., LLC, No. 1:16-cv-11086 (N.D. Ill.)
On August 4, 2020, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, John J. Tharp, granted final approval to a $588,000 settlement in Hunt v. MVP. Settlement discussions continue with just one other company named in the suit, MPS Chicago.