Case: Taylor v. D.C. Water & Sewer Authority

1:01-cv-00561 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: March 16, 2001

Closed Date: 2017

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 16, 2001, an African-American employee of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority ("WASA") filed this class action lawsuit against WASA on behalf of himself as well as current and former black employees under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory damages, claiming that the defendant engaged in race discriminat…

On March 16, 2001, an African-American employee of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority ("WASA") filed this class action lawsuit against WASA on behalf of himself as well as current and former black employees under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory damages, claiming that the defendant engaged in race discrimination through its hiring and promotion practices. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that in 1996 the defendant adopted an at-will employment system that allowed managers to hire or promote their chosen candidates or to inflate those candidates' scores. With this new system in place, the plaintiff claimed that African-American employees encountered a "glass ceiling" that prevented them from obtaining the same positions as similarly situated white employees and from advancing as rapidly as those employees. The plaintiff alleged in particular that black employees were hired at the lowest levels of the agency, were forced to wait longer than white employees for promotions, and were often skipped over for promotions in favor of equally experienced white employees. The plaintiff sought to certify a class consisting of all African-American employees who applied for and were denied positions or promotions at WASA from October 1996 through December 2000.

The defendant moved to dismiss the case on May 21, 2001, claiming that because the plaintiffs requested compensatory damages and a jury trial in addition to injunctive relief, they could not, as a matter of law, satisfy the requirements for class certification under FRCP 23(b). The District Court (Judge Henry H. Kennedy) denied the motion, explaining that the D.C. Circuit had adopted an "ad-hoc approach" to the issue and that the case law did not regard compensatory damages claims or a request for a jury trial as per se incompatible with class certification under 23(b). Taylor v. Dist. of Columbia Water & Sewer Auth., 205 F.R.D. 43, 2002 WL 5513 (D.D.C. 2002).

The parties then engaged in a lengthy discovery battle. On March 13, 2007, the District Court (Judge Kennedy) certified the class as to liability under FRCP 23(b) for injunctive and declaratory relief, but it postponed any certification as to damages. Taylor v. Dist. of Columbia Water & Sewer Auth., 241 F.R.D. 33, 2007 WL 766229 (D.D.C. 2007). The defendant appealed this ruling, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Judge Karen L. Henderson) denied the petition as untimely on April 3, 2009. In re D.C. Water & Sewer Auth., 561 F.3d 494 (D.C. Cir. 2009).

The plaintiffs moved to enlarge the class period on November 14, 2007, and the District Court (Judge Kennedy) denied this motion in an unpublished order on February 7, 2008. The parties then continued disputing the class composition and notice procedures until August 25, 2009, when the District Court (Judge Kennedy) acceded to the parties' request and issued a stipulation and order approving the class notice and directing issuance of the notice to class members.

On November 30, 2010, at the parties' request, the District Court (Judge Kennedy) issued an order referring the case for alternative dispute resolution. The parties eventually reached an agreement and submitted a proposed settlement for approval on March 23, 2013.

The District Court (Judge Barbara J. Rothstein) issued an order, on March 28, 2013, approving the class settlement. The Court announced that, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (2011), it was vacating the class certification under FRCP 23(b)(2) and recertifying the class under 23(b)(3). The approved class had 1,037 members, consisting of all African-American employees who worked for the defendant between October 1, 1996, and December 31, 2000.

Under the terms of the agreement, WASA transmitted $2,885,000 to a claims administrator, with $1.9 million set aside for the payment of claims and the remaining funds to be used for attorneys' fees, litigation costs, and a service award to the lead plaintiff. The settlement also included substantial non-monetary relief. Under the agreement, WASA was forbidden from retaliating against any class members for their involvement in the litigation, and was required to provide employees with a written statement of its commitment to equal employment opportunity and post a copy of this policy in common areas of the workplace. WASA also agreed to conduct a mandatory diversity and equal employment opportunity training for all employees and take measures to ensure that employees understand their obligations to identify and report violations of the policies. WASA further agreed to develop and implement complaint procedures and a complaint tracking system, as well as a voluntary affirmative action program. A settlement compliance monitor was assigned to oversee and report on WASA's implementation of the agreement, and WASA agreed to submit reports for the monitor's review. Finally, WASA agreed to create an internal implementation team as well as institute an annual review of pay and data practices to ensure that any racial disparities in pay are due to legitimate and non-discriminatory factors.

On March 16, 2015, the District Court (Judge Rothstein), after receiving a letter from class members who claimed that they had not yet been paid their monetary award, issued an order requiring the parties to provide a status report. Plaintiffs' counsel responded on March 18 and explained that there had been a delay because WASA inadvertently omitted several people from the list of eligible class members it prepared for the claims administrator. Further compounding this delay, plaintiffs' counsel stated that his co-counsel has been preparing a motion to advise the court on how the administrator calculated the payouts to individual class members. The money would not be disbursed until this motion was filed. The matter resolved in June 2015 when the court ordered counsel to furnish the five individuals with proper documents to file for disbursement.

The balance of $14,025.38 in settlement funds were distributed to the District of Columbia Legal Aid Society upon a motion by the parties on October 4, 2017. The case is closed.

Summary Authors

Eric Weiler (8/3/2010)

Brian Tengel (3/15/2015)

Chelsea Rinnig (3/21/2018)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4705996/parties/taylor-v-dc-water-sewer/


Judge(s)

Henderson, Karen LeCraft (District of Columbia)

Kay, Alan (District of Columbia)

Kennedy, Henry Harold Jr. (District of Columbia)

Randolph, Arthur Raymond (District of Columbia)

Rothstein, Barbara Jacobs (Washington)

Tatel, David S. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Branch, David A (District of Columbia)

Hillary, Alexander G. II (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Doyle, William Edward (District of Columbia)

Gray, Karen Ellen (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Henderson, Karen LeCraft (District of Columbia)

Kay, Alan (District of Columbia)

Kennedy, Henry Harold Jr. (District of Columbia)

Randolph, Arthur Raymond (District of Columbia)

Rothstein, Barbara Jacobs (Washington)

Tatel, David S. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Branch, David A (District of Columbia)

Hillary, Alexander G. II (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Doyle, William Edward (District of Columbia)

Gray, Karen Ellen (District of Columbia)

Ho, Allyson N. (District of Columbia)

Nagle, Mark Earl (District of Columbia)

Perkins, Julia H (District of Columbia)

Pivec, Mary E (District of Columbia)

Speights, Grace E (District of Columbia)

Uribe, Diana M. (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Vekker, Alexander PhD (Pennsylvania)

White, Paul F. Ph.D. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:01-cv-00561

Docket (PACER)

Taylor v. D.C. Water and Sewer Authority

Oct. 4, 2017

Oct. 4, 2017

Docket
24

1:01-cv-00561

Opinion [Denying Defendant's Motion To Dismiss]

205 F.R.D. 43

Jan. 2, 2002

Jan. 2, 2002

Order/Opinion
65

1:01-cv-00561

Plaintiff's Combined Motion for TRO and Preliminary Injunction

April 2, 2004

April 2, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief
71

1:01-cv-00561

WASA's Amended Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for a TRO and Preliminary Injunction

April 6, 2004

April 6, 2004

Pleading / Motion / Brief
110-3

1:01-cv-00561

[Plaintiff's] Expert Affidavit

2005 WL 5958160

May 25, 2005

May 25, 2005

Declaration/Affidavit
120-3

1:01-cv-00561

[Defendant's Expert's Report In Response To Plaintiff's Expert's Affidavit]

2005 WL 6441138

Sept. 16, 2005

Sept. 16, 2005

Declaration/Affidavit
139

1:01-cv-00561

Memorandum Opinion And Order [Partially Certifying Class For Injunctive And Declaratory Relief]

241 F.R.D. 33

March 13, 2007

March 13, 2007

Order/Opinion
154

1:01-cv-00561

Third Amended Complaint

Nov. 13, 2007

Nov. 13, 2007

Complaint

08-07099

Opinion [Denying Defendant's Interlocutory Appeal of District Court Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion To Certify Class]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

561 F.3d 494

April 3, 2009

April 3, 2009

Order/Opinion

08-07099

Order [Denying Petition For Writ Of Mandamus Based On Previous Opinion Denying Defendant's Appeal As Untimely]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

2009 U.S.App.LEXIS 7137

April 3, 2009

April 3, 2009

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4705996/taylor-v-dc-water-sewer/

Last updated June 5, 2022, 3:11 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
139

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting in part and denying in part 107 Motion for class certification. (Kennedy, Henry) Modified on 3/15/2007 (FL, ).

March 13, 2007

March 13, 2007

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Special Collection(s):

Private Employment Class Actions

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 16, 2001

Closing Date: 2017

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All African-American employees who sought and were denied positions or promotions at the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority from October 1996 through December 2000.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

District of Columbia (District of Columbia, District of Columbia), State

Defendant Type(s):

Sanitation/Public Works

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1981

Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: $2.88 million

Order Duration: 2013 - None

Content of Injunction:

Auditing

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Discrimination Prohibition

Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols

Implement complaint/dispute resolution process

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Post/Distribute Notice of Rights / EE Law

Provide antidiscrimination training

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Retaliation Prohibition

Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Pattern or Practice

Discrimination-area:

Hiring

Promotion

Seniority

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black