Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Friday, November 3, 2017

Ford Shows How to Kill a Sexual Harassment Class Action

Reuters, Want to Kill a Sex Discrimination Class Action? Ford Case is Blueprint

Last week, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of Chicago denied an emergency motion by lawyers representing 31 women who claim they were sexually harassed at two Ford Motors plants in the Chicago area. The women’s lawyers wanted to stop the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from sending out notices to Ford workers who may be eligible for compensation under Ford’s $10 million agreement this summer with the agency. Judge Coleman concluded the women hadn’t met the extremely tough standard to justify court meddling with administrative decisions.

 

The judge’s three-page order seems perfectly straightforward – until you understand the implications of her decision. Coleman’s ruling will probably spell the end of the long-running sex discrimination class action, in which the two sides are deep in discovery on the women’s request for class certification.

 

As I’ll explain, both the women and Ford contend the EEOC claims process can’t be reconciled with the class action, the women in their emergency motion to block the EEOC notices and Ford in a motion to deny class certification. Judge Coleman hinted at sympathy for the women’s argument that Ford made a deal with the government to circumvent the class action, writing that the company “seems to be engaging in what might be considered gamesmanship.” But her ruling means Ford’s strategy worked, gamesmanship or not.

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2017/11/ford-shows-how-to-kill-a-sexual-harassment-class-action.html

Courts, Equal Employment | Permalink

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