FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: For EEOC Thursday, January 4, 2001 Cynthia G. Pierre (205) 731-1182 Mildred Byrd (205) 731-1297 Jill Lolley Vincent (205) 731-1279 TTY: (205) 731-0175 For Plaintiffs GORDON, SILBERMAN Dennis G. Pantazis (205) 328-0640 For ACIPCO BURR & FORMAN Carol H. Stewart (205) 251-3000
BIRMINGHAM, ALA. -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a class of private plaintiffs, and American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO) today announced the settlement of a lawsuit alleging race and sex discrimination. Under the terms of the agreement approximately 346 men who were aggrieved by the policy will share in the monetary compensation for the loss of medical and dental insurance coverage for their children because of a former requirement that children of employees and pensioners live with them full time. ACIPCO will pay a total of $5 million to the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs' class and their attorneys, for fees and costs.
"One of the EEOC's critical functions is to pursue cases which involve a discriminatory broad-based employment practice or practices that affect numerous employees," said EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "The positive resolution of this specific case goes a long way to reinforce the Commission's commitment to all of those protected by the statutes we enforce in all aspects of employment."
The suit filed in 1986 by the plaintiffs alleging sex discrimination was later amended to assert that a class of African-Americans and males in general were intentionally discriminated against on the basis of race and sex by being subjected to disparate treatment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The plaintiffs' back pay claims span from May 1981 to May 1994, when ACIPCO eliminated the exclusionary policy based upon a change in the law. In addition, the plaintiffs' class included claims of compensatory damages under the Civil Rights Act of 1991 from November 21, 1991, forward.
The Commission intervened in the class action suit by private plaintiffs against ACIPCO. EEOC's intervention was necessary to safeguard the public interest following an investigation of over 100 Charges of Discrimination filed with EEOC's Birmingham District Office alleging sex discrimination.
"EEOC's intervention in this case was necessary because we determined the policy had an adverse impact on a class of hundreds of male workers," said Chairwoman Castro. "The Commission became a party to the suit to ensure that such a policy with such widespread impact was eradicated and that the identified victims were adequately compensated for their losses."
According to the settlement, each class member will be reimbursed twice the amount of his qualified out-of-pocket medical, dental, and insurance expenses incurred on behalf of his natural or adopted children as a result of his children's exclusion from the ACIPCO Medical and Dental Benefits Plan because of the residency requirement. These class members were required by the Court to submit sworn information, through a series of requests and orders. In order for a class member to have qualified out-of-pocket expenses, he would have had to comply with the Court's requests and orders, had a prior agreement between the parties, or a finding by the Special Master who presided over the hearings concerning out-of-pocket expenses incurred.
Each qualified class member will also receive $34.15 per child for each eligible month that each child was denied coverage. Twelve class members who had claims that fell between May 23, 1981 and November 24, 1982 will each receive the sum of $500.00 as a compromise, as the court by its ruling excluded these individual's claims as being untimely.
A trial was held in the case from December 11 to 21, 1995, with the jury returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs on their claims of intentional disparate treatment based on Title VII race and sex discrimination prohibitions. Since the time of the trial, the parties have been engaged in further extensive litigation and briefings to determine the amounts of back pay, interest, and compensatory damages to be awarded to each class member. In April 2000, the parties reached a tentative settlement agreement in a mediation conference with mediator James P. Alexander of the law firm of Bradley, Arant,Rose & White.
The Honorable Judge Edwin L. Nelson preliminarily approved the Consent Decree to settle the case in September 2000. Notices were then sent to the class members to inform them of their rights concerning the proposed Consent Decree. The class members were given until November 9, 2000 to file any objection to the Decree with the Court. A Fairness Hearing was held on December 8, 2000 before Judge Paul Greene. After the hearing, the Court gave final approval to the settlement.
Cynthia G. Pierre, Director EEOC's Birmingham District Office, said, "All of the parties have invested a considerable amount of time and effort in the litigation of this matter over a number of years. The Consent Decree resolves this case fairly, reasonably, and in the best interest of all the parties."
Van Richey, President and CEO of ACIPCO, said, "The Company is pleased that this controversy about its healthcare policy is finally resolved. The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of a certain class of male employees 14 years ago, has been settled on grounds that are reasonable for all parties."
The plaintiffs in this case are represented by the law firm of Gordon, Silberman, Wiggins & Childs, with Robert L. Wiggins, Jr., Dennis G. Pantazis, Ann K. Wiggins, and Scott A. Gilliland as lead counsel. ACIPCO is represented by the law firm of Burr & Forman, with Carol H. Stewart and Joseph W. Letzer serving as lead counsel. EEOC is represented by Jill Lolley Vincent of the Birmingham District Office.
In addition to enforcing Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, EEOC enforces the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's Web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on January 4, 2001.
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