EEOC Said Global Engine Systems and Parts Company Discriminated Against Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Women at Illinois Facilities
ROCKFORD, Ill. – A federal judge has given final approval to a $5 million settlement resolving two consolidated class action employment discrimination lawsuits against a global engine systems and parts company, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The litigation began on May 8, 2003, when a group of employees filed a class action lawsuit (Bell, et al v. Woodward Governor Company, N.D. Ill. No. 03 50190) against Colorado-based Woodward Governor, asserting that it engaged in illegal discrimination against African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians at its Rockford and Rockton, Ill., facilities with respect to pay, promotions and training, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. On October 4, 2006, the EEOC sued Woodward (EEOC v. Woodward Governor Company, N.D. Ill. No. 06 C 50178) affirming the same charges and adding a charge of discrimination against women, which also violates the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The two suits were consolidated by the court for litigation.
The consent decree settling the suits, approved by Judge Philip G. Reinhard of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division, established a $2.4 million settlement fund to be shared by minority employees who worked at Woodward Governor’s Rockford or Rockton plants at any time since May 1999, and a $2.6 million settlement fund to be shared by female employees who worked at Woodward Governor’s Rockford or Rockton plants at any time since June 2002.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the consent decree mandates extensive injunctive relief. The decree requires that Woodward utilize an industrial organizational psychologist to perform an analysis of production jobs that were at issue in the suit and develop written job descriptions for those jobs as well as a performance appraisal and compensation review process. Upon completion of the job analysis, Woodward is required to review the job assignments of its current production employees and adjust them as necessary based on the new job descriptions.
The decree also authorizes the appointment of Nancy B. Kreiter of Chicago to oversee and assist in Woodward’s implementation of and compliance with the consent decree. In the past, Kreiter has provided similar services in connection with the implementation of the consent decrees which resolved two EEOC sex discrimination lawsuits – EEOC v. Mitsubishi and EEOC v. The Dial Corporation. Kreiter will provide annual reports to the court assessing Woodward’s compliance with the terms of the decree.
Other terms of the decree include injunctions against discrimination and retaliation; a provision that Woodward implement a procedure for investigating complaints of discrimination; a requirement that Woodward provide training to employees regarding its anti-discrimination policy and complaint procedure; and a term mandating semi-annual reporting to Kreiter, the EEOC, and plaintiffs’ counsel regarding promotion decisions, compensation changes, and job training offered to employees.
“The EEOC is very satisfied with both the monetary and non-monetary relief provided for in the consent decree,” said EEOC Regional Attorney John Hendrickson. “The $5 million settlement fund provides for significant monetary relief, and the appointment of Nancy Kreiter to oversee implementation of the decree ensures that the decree will bring about comprehensive changes at Woodward resulting in equal opportunity and treatment for all of Woodward’s employees.”
Judge Reinhard had preliminarily approved the consent decree on October 5, 2006. On Friday, Judge Reinhard gave final approval to all terms in the decree and approved the distribution of the settlement funds among claimants who were permitted to file claims under the decree. The claims process in now complete and closed, and no additional claims to the settlement fund are being accepted or considered.
The Director of the EEOC Chicago District Office, John Rowe, who managed the agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation of Woodward Governor, said, “Our sense now is that Woodward Governor is determined to make the aspirations memorialized in the consent decree part of daily life at the company. With that, with the work of Ms. Kreiter, and with the good will of everyone involved, the future looks bright for everyone at Woodward Governor.”
EEOC Trial Attorney Ann Henry, who, with Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour, staffed the case, added, “The job analyses provided for by the consent decree should position Woodward to make future job assignment and compensation decisions based on job-related, non-discriminatory criteria and should go a long way in assuring a discrimination-free work environment at the company.”
Plaintiffs in the private class action were represented by Jennifer K. Soule, James G. Bradtke, and Kelly K. Lambert of Soule, Bradtke & Lambert of Chicago. Firms associated with them on the case were Robert D. Allison & Associates, Law Offices of Stephen G. Seliger, and Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd., all of Chicago, and Law Offices of Peter G. Earle of Milwaukee.
Woodward Governor describes itself on its web site (www.woodward.com) as “the world’s largest independent designer, manufacturer, and service provider of energy control solutions for aircraft engines, industrial engines and turbines, power generation, and process automation equipment,” with corporate headquarters located in Fort Collins, Colo. Woodward has approximately 1,100 employees at its Rockford and Rockton plants. The company has 25 facilities worldwide with ten in the United States and others in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.