WASHINGTON -- Naomi C. Earp, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced a $20 million proposed consent decree resolving a systemic race discrimination lawsuit against Walgreens, the Illinois-based national drug store chain.
The proposed settlement was filed with U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy of the Southern District of Illinois, with a request for his preliminary approval (EEOC v. Walgreen Co., S.D. Il. 07-CV-172-GPM and Tucker v. Walgreen Co., S.D. Il. 05-CV-440-GPM). The EEOC’s suit alleged that Walgreens discriminated against African American retail management and pharmacy employees in promotion, compensation and assignment. In addition to the monetary relief for an estimated 10,000 class members, the consent decree prohibits store assignments based on race. The decree is subject to final approval by Judge Murphy following a fairness hearing.
“We commend Walgreens for working cooperatively with us to reach an amicable settlement of this case without protracted litigation,” EEOC Chair Earp said. “We believe this is a satisfactory resolution for all parties.”
A lawsuit alleging similar claims was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in June 2005 on behalf of 14 African American current and former Walgreens’ employees by Foland, Wickens, Eisfelder, Roper & Hofer, Kansas City, Mo.; Spriggs Law Firm, Tallahassee, Fla.; and Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian, Oakland, Calif. Walgreens denied each of the allegations made by the private plaintiffs and the EEOC. The two cases were consolidated in April 2007.
Walgreens’ CEO, Jeffrey A. Rein, said, “We are pleased to reach a resolution that is consistent with our past and future diversity and equal opportunity objectives. Our company was built on principles of fairness and equality, and we do not tolerate discrimination in any aspect of employment including store assignment, compensation and promotion opportunities. In fact, we’re a drugstore industry leader when it comes to the employment and promotion of African American managers and pharmacists.”
Private plaintiffs’ counsel, Tiffany B. Klosener of Foland, Wickens, Eisfelder, Roper & Hofer, said, “Walgreens is a rapidly growing company with lots of opportunity for its employees. We look forward to working with Walgreens to promote fair and equal employment opportunities for all employees.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. On February 28, 2007, EEOC Chair 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. Further information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.