In the News

Class Action OK to Continue vs Vee Pak, Staffing Network Over Alleged Discrimination vs Black Temp Workers

Cook County Record

March 7, 2023

A class action lawsuit alleging a suburban beauty supply distributor and staffing agencies enforced discriminatory practices against Black workers is moving forward.

Named plaintiffs Joe Eagle, Michael Keys, James Zollicoffer and Evan Franklin filed suit alleging that Vee Pak, located in Countryside and Hodgkins, had a policy that favored hiring Latino workers over Black applicants, and instructed several staffing agencies to implement that policy when filling temporary positions in its warehouse. The manufacturing facilities had workers fill and cap bottles and tubes for personal-care and drug companies.

The legal action dates back to 2012, when Eagle, Keys, Zollicoffer and Franklin, who are Black, first brought the putative class action individually and on behalf of other Black temp workers allegedly similarly denied work, against Vee Pak and three staffing agencies, Alternative Staffing, Personnel Staffing Group and Staffing Network, that allegedly implemented Vee Pak’s alleged discriminatory policy. Alternative Staffing and Personnel Staffing Group, which does business as Most Valuable Personnel, or MVP, have settled the claims against them; Vee Pak and the third staffing agency, Staffing Network, remain in the case.

Plaintiffs moved to certify a class of Black workers who sought, but were denied, work assignments at the three staffing agencies from which they could have been referred to Vee Pak between 2011 and 2015.

The plaintiffs’ motion for class certification was granted Feb. 23 by U.S. District Judge John Tharp in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. Eagle and Keys were appointed as staffing network subclass representatives, Zollicoffer as MVP subclass representative, and Franklin as ASI subclass representative.

The court appointed attorneys Joseph M. Sellers and Harini Srinivasan, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, of Washington, D.C.; Christopher J. Williams, of National Legal Advocacy Network, of Chicago; and Christopher J. Wilmes and Caryn C. Lederer, of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, of Chicago, as class counsel.

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