Update – November 14, 2019 – Walmart Reaches $14 Million Settlement
On November 14, 2019, a federal judge preliminarily approved a $14 million settlement to end claims that Walmart discriminated against pregnant workers.
The three plaintiffs alleged that until March 5, 2014, Walmart maintained a discriminatory policy under which pregnant employees were denied workplace accommodations that were afforded to other workers with similar limitations.
The $14 million settlement fund (minus attorneys’ fees and expenses and the costs of notice and claims administration) will be split among approved claimants, according to court documents. Attorneys estimate that the average class member will receive between $819 and $2,049, though the amount could be more depending on how many women submit claims.
According to settlement documents, the more than 10,000 affected employees fall into one of two proposed classes depending on whether their requests for accommodation were processed by Walmart’s Accommodation Service Center (ASC).
The ASC settlement class seeks to include all women who worked at Walmart locations in 39 states (listed below) and were denied requested accommodations because of pregnancy between March 19, 2013 and March 5, 2014.
Those states include: Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; Colorado; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; New Mexico; North Carolina; North Dakota; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; Wisconsin; and Wyoming.
The non-ASC settlement class seeks to cover all women who worked at Walmart stores nationwide and were denied requested accommodations because of pregnancy by store-level management or store-level human resources employees during the time period described above.
The final approval hearing for the settlement is slated for April 22, 2020.
We hope everyone had a great and restful Memorial Day weekend! Now, the news:
Ruling Allows First Transgender Individual to Sue Employer Under Americans with Disabilities Act
U.S. District Judge Joseph Leeson ruled on May 18 that a transgender woman could sue her former employer over alleged sexual discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law that does not provide protections to transgender individuals. The decision marks the first time a transgender individual will file a class action for gender dysphoria, which is classified as a type of anxiety, on ADA grounds.
While avoiding ruling on the overall constitutionality of the ADA as requested by the plaintiff, Judge Leeson said in his decision that he allowed the litigation to proceed “in part because the law should be broadly construed to give people with disabilities recourse to pursue discrimination claims,” according to a Fortune post detailing the decision.
While the ruling is a legal victory on its surface, it is important to note that being transgender is not considered a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. After news broke of the ruling, concerns were raised within the transgender community over whether Judge Leeson’s decision, rather than serve as a progressive landmark, actually placed an additional stigma on the segment of the population experiencing gender dysmorphia.
“Within the trans community itself, there remains significant debate over whether being trans should be considered a mental disorder, and whether transitioning itself should be medicalized,” Katelyn Burns, a transgender woman, wrote for Vice. “[The plaintiff’s] case differed from other anti-discrimination laws, because it treats gender dysphoria as a medical condition to protect trans people from discrimination. But doing so inherently invites complicated questions—does it invite the idea that there’s something wrong with trans people? What about trans people who don’t experience dysphoria? How do you account for those who chose not to ‘treat’ their dysphoria?—that evade easy answers.”
The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges her former employer, Cabela’s, fired her as part of a “pattern of harassment” that reportedly included denying her use of the women’s bathroom. The woman was fired, Fortune wrote, after her ex-employer claimed she threatened a co-worker’s child during a workplace altercation.
ClassAction.org will continue to bring readers all the latest news surrounding this development.
Fyre Festival Update: Federal Court to Hear Petition in July to Consolidate Cases; With Subpoenas Issued, Criminal Investigation Rolls On
Variety reports that a petition to consolidate the double-digit number of class action lawsuits filed against Fyre Media, Billy McFarland and Ja Rule in the wake of the parties’ now-infamously failed festival will be heard by a panel of federal court judges on July 27 in Los Angeles. Though we’re still in the very early stages of this legal saga, the publication wrote that the plaintiffs’ counsel believes Fyre Festival’s defense attorneys will attempt to put the class action and individual civil lawsuits on hold until any criminal proceedings are resolved.
We’re at the point in the Fyre Festival story where it’s becoming difficult to keep track of the numbers. To date, Fyre Media and its co-founders are named in at least 11 lawsuits, with whispers recently emerging that the FBI may be taking a closer look at the company’s financials and McFarland. Business Insider wrote last week that criminal investigators are reportedly focusing their efforts on allegations of mail, wire, and securities fraud.
Since all signs point toward Fyre Media not having resources available to settle its burgeoning legal problems before they go to trial, we’ll have to wait and see if attendees and investors each get their turn in civil court.
Writer Paula Parisi has the latest over at Variety.com.
Report: Uber Made $7.4M from Hidden NYC Customer Charges
It turns out that Uber may not have been entirely upfront about its purportedly “upfront” pricing system.
A proposed class action lawsuit filed by a Coney Island woman last week alleges the embattled ride-sharing service hit passengers with hidden charges that made the company $7.4 million per month from New York City rides alone. Detailed by the New York Post, the lawsuit wages Uber, despite its “no math and no surprises” promises, charges customers roughly $2 more than the true cost of their trips. How does the grift work? The Post, citing the lawsuit, writes that Uber ostensibly shows riders a “less efficient” route than the one drivers actually take.
The plaintiff’s attorney alleges Uber could very well be taking advantage of customers in other cities as well.
Head over to NYPost.com for Priscilla DeGregory and Julia Marsh’s write up of the suit, and to learn more about a case that was filed just the day before the hidden charges action.
States Will Get $18.5M, Consumers $10M in Target Data Breach Settlements
Despite the best efforts of a lone objector, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson has, again, approved a $10 million settlement for a class of consumers affected by the massive 2013 Target data breach that affected roughly 110 million customers. After weathering arguments back in February from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit over whether he had conducted a rigorous-enough analysis of whether the plaintiffs appropriately represented non-economically-injured class members, Magnuson wrote that, regardless of financial losses, each class members’ personal information was still affected by the hack and possibly up for sale on the Internet.
“The only difference among class members is in the quantifiable damages suffered,” Magnuson wrote, “not in the underlying injury.”
It’s important to note that the only reason why the case came before the Eight Circuit was a lone objector’s argument that the named plaintiffs “failed to adequately represent class members who got nothing simply because they had no financial impact from the breach,” the National Law Journal wrote.
“There is no evidence that the settlement here is similarly weighted in favor of one group to the detriment of another,” Magnuson wrote. “Rather, the settlement accounts for all injuries suffered.”
On a grander scale, Target agreed last week to shell out a separate $18.5 million settlement to 47 states and the District of Columbia to resolve state-level investigations—led by the Connecticut and Illinois Attorneys General—into the 2013 cyber attack. California is pegged to receive upward of $1.4 million, the most of any state included in the deal.
Target has said the data breach cost the company $202 million.
Read up on Target’s consumer class action settlement with writer Amanda Bronstad’s piece for TheNational Law Journal and state-level settlement at NBCNews.com.
Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, BMW End Takata Airbag Class Action for $533M
A $553 million settlement reached between plaintiffs and Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW will end a years-long class action lawsuit over defective Takata airbag inflators. NPRpublished the below breakdown of how many vehicles were affected for each manufacturer, along with how much each company will contribute toward the settlement:
- Toyota: 9.2 million vehicles; $278,500,000
- BMW: 2.3 million vehicles; $131,000,000
- Subaru: 2.6 million vehicles; $68,262,257
- Mazda: 1.7 million vehicles; $75,805,050
The deal will go toward individuals who own or lease cars and incurred various costs due to the air bag recall, including, according to NPR, those who had to pay for rental cars.
In early 2017, Takata itself agreed to shell out a $1 billion settlement over allegations it lied about its defective air bags, with three top executives facing criminal charges related to the fraud.
Writer Bill Chappell has more on the settlement—which does not cover separate lawsuits against Ford, Honda and Nissan—over at NPR.com.
Ex-Employees’ Suit Claims Walmart Discriminates Against Pregnant Workers
Rewire writes that two former Walmart workers are behind a proposed class action claiming they and thousands of other pregnant employees were unlawfully denied on-the-job accommodations even though the retailer ostensibly provides work accommodations to many non-pregnant employees.
One plaintiff, who worked as a bakery and deli clerk at a Florida location, claims she was fired because of her pregnancy. The woman alleges a supervisor told her that pregnancy was “no excuse” to avoid heavy lifting. According to Rewire, the woman was hospitalized after lifting a 35-pound tray of rotisserie chickens. She was then fired after inquiring about pregnancy leave, the suit claims.
The other named plaintiff, formerly employed in Illinois, claims Walmart forced her to take more than two months of unpaid leave rather than provide her with on-the-job accommodations.
Rewire’s Nicole Knight has all you need to know on the developing litigation.
MO Man Claims in Class Action Hersey Intentionally Under Fills Candy Boxes
The Washington Post last week brought us the details of a class action alleging Hershey intentionally under-fills boxes of Whoppers, Reese’s Pieces, and other candies. And the case has been allowed to proceed in court.
U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled the Missouri man’s lawsuit—in which he alleged he purchased a box of Whoppers that was only about 59 percent full, while a box of Reese’s Pieces was roughly 71 percent full—could go forward because “the Court cannot conclude as a matter of law at this stage of the litigation that the packaging is not misleading.”
The case seeks damages of at least $5 million.
Writer Adha Bhattarai has the details at WashingtonPost.com.