Class of More Than 10,000 to Receive Monetary Relief; Significant Injunctive Remedies Included
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A federal judge here has granted final approval of a sweeping consent decree resolving a class race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Walgreen Co., the Deerfield, Ill.-based national drug store chain. The decree, one of the largest monetary settlements in a race case by the EEOC, provides for the payment of over $24 million to a class of thousands of African American workers and orders comprehensive injunctive relief designed to improve the company’s promotion and store assignment practices.
The EEOC filed its suit in March 2007 alleging that Walgreens discriminated against African American retail management and pharmacy employees in promotion, compensation, and assignment The decree, entered by U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy of the Southern District of Illinois, resolves the EEOC’s litigation and a private class suit filed in June 2005 on behalf of 14 African American current and former Walgreens’ employees (EEOC v. Walgreen Co., S.D. Il. 07-CV-172-GPM and Tucker v. Walgreen Co., S.D. Il. 05-CV-440-GPM) The two cases were consolidated in April 2007 Following a fairness hearing, the court ruled that the consent decree is fair, reasonable, and adequate.
“The EEOC’s case is a good example of the Commission’s renewed emphasis on class and systemic litigation and furthers the agency’s E-RACE Initiative, which is designed to address major issues of race and color discrimination,” said EEOC General Counsel Ronald S. Cooper “I commend the work of our outstanding trial team, which included lawyers from Kansas City, St. Louis, Miami and Chicago, as was appropriate in a case which will provide benefits to a nationwide class.”
The monetary payments will be shared by approximately 10,000 African American current and former store-level management employees across the country The decree also requires Walgreens to retain outside consultants to review and make recommendations regarding their employment practices, including standardized, non-discriminatory promotion and store assignment standards, procedures and promotional benchmarks Compliance with the decree will be monitored by the EEOC and the Goldstein, Demchak firm of Oakland, Calif The Court will retain jurisdiction over the decree for five years.
Jean P. Kamp, acting regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District, said, “The combination of very substantial monetary relief and far-reaching injunctive provisions make this decree a model for relief in similar cases The court complimented the settlement during the final fairness hearing, and we agree that this is an outstanding result for African American managers at Walgreens.”
According to its web site, www.walgreens.com, “Walgreens is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2007 sales of $53.8 billion. The company operates 6,237 stores in 49 states and Puerto Rico.”
Johnny Tucker, a Walgreens store manager from Independence, Mo., who helped initiate the suit and was present at the fairness hearing, said, “I look forward to all of the positive changes this settlement will bring to the company.”
Tucker and the private class were represented by Foland, Wickens, Eisfelder, Roper & Hofer, of Kansas City, Mo.; Spriggs Law Firm, of Tallahassee, Fla.; and Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian, of Oakland, CalifThe initial charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC were investigated by Harold Emde in the agency’s St. Louis District Office and Samuel James in the Kansas City Area Office.
On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi Earp launched the agency E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/e-race/index.html.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.