Case: Berger v. Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen

1:75-cv-01743 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: Oct. 21, 1975

Closed Date: 1999

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 21, 1975, eight black rodmen filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (the Civil Rights Act of 1866) against Local 201 of the Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen union in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. On November 28, 1975, the complaint was amended to allege violations of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive relief, back pay, and attorneys' fees, alleging that…

On October 21, 1975, eight black rodmen filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (the Civil Rights Act of 1866) against Local 201 of the Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen union in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. On November 28, 1975, the complaint was amended to allege violations of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive relief, back pay, and attorneys' fees, alleging that Local 201 illegally discriminated against them by either denying or delaying union membership based on race. The plaintiffs filed the action on behalf of a class which was certified on July 27, 1976 and consisted of (1) all black persons who sought membership in Local 201 or admission into the union's Apprenticeship Program, and (2) all black persons who were referred for employment by Local 201 or who applied to Local 201 for referral for employment and who may have been discouraged from applying for membership.

The Court (Judge John G. Penn) bifurcated the trial into two hearings: one on liability and one on damages. On June 7, 1985, the Court held Local 201 liable and ordered various forms of injunctive relief. The judgment was appealed, and on April 5, 1988, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the District Court's judgment.

The Court of Appeals held that the District Court erred by: (1) finding that the defendants had engaged in unlawful retaliation against four of the plaintiffs, (2) allowing the plaintiff class to challenge the high school diploma requirement of the Apprenticeship Program without a suitable class representative, (3) enjoining Local 201 from disciplining members who fail to pay a duly authorized assessment as well as requiring Local 201 to return those assessments to the plaintiffs, and (4) ordering Local 201 to admit into membership those plaintiffs having at least 6,000 hours of rodman experience without first requiring them to pass the Journeyman Exam.

However, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's holding that (1) by requiring that applicants for union membership complete a Union-supervised educational program, Local 201 discriminated against the class in violation of Title VII and Section 1981, and (2) Local 201 engaged in unlawful retaliation against one of the plaintiffs. The Court of Appeals also held that the District Court's remedial order, with the exceptions noted above, was within the Court's discretion, including its demand that Local 201 allow class members who have 3,000 hours of experience to take the Journeyman Exam regardless of whether they have completed class training.

On April 14, 1994, the District Court issued its Report of Special Master (Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Attridge), providing for the damages that Local 201 was to pay the plaintiffs. On January 3, 1997, the District Court entered an Order of Judgment against the defendants and in favor of the plaintiffs. Like the District Court's decision concerning liability, this decision was also appealed. On March 30, 1999, the Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the District Court's decision.

While on remand, the two sides reached a settlement agreement concerning damages, which was approved by the court on December 8, 1999. The agreement resulted in approximately one million dollars in damages. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Jordan Rossen (8/20/2010)

People


Judge(s)

Attridge, Patrick J. (District of Columbia)

Edwards, Harry Thomas (District of Columbia)

Garland, Merrick B. (District of Columbia)

Ginsburg, Douglas Howard (District of Columbia)

Penn, John Garrett (District of Columbia)

Sentelle, David Bryan (District of Columbia)

Silberman, Laurence Hirsch (District of Columbia)

Starr, Kenneth Winston (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boggs, Roderic Van Oesen (District of Columbia)

Dellinger, Hampton (North Carolina)

Judge(s)

Attridge, Patrick J. (District of Columbia)

Edwards, Harry Thomas (District of Columbia)

Garland, Merrick B. (District of Columbia)

Ginsburg, Douglas Howard (District of Columbia)

Penn, John Garrett (District of Columbia)

Sentelle, David Bryan (District of Columbia)

Silberman, Laurence Hirsch (District of Columbia)

Starr, Kenneth Winston (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boggs, Roderic Van Oesen (District of Columbia)

Dellinger, Hampton (North Carolina)

Devaney, John M. (District of Columbia)

Dienelt, John (District of Columbia)

Hilmer, Tracy (District of Columbia)

Killion, Christopher (District of Columbia)

Lamb, Deborah (District of Columbia)

Reid, Inez (District of Columbia)

Sellers, Joseph Marc (District of Columbia)

Warin, Roger E (District of Columbia)

Yoerges, Roger William (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Benson, Sandra Rae (California)

Bourg, Victor (California)

Gold, Laurence E. (District of Columbia)

Moscowitz, Ellyn (California)

Roger, Michael B (California)

Tedrow, Sally (District of Columbia)

Other Attorney(s)

Anderson, William (District of Columbia)

Barrett, St. John (District of Columbia)

Berger, Alfonzia (District of Columbia)

Buchanan, Avis E. (District of Columbia)

Dailard, Scott (District of Columbia)

Duncan, Robert Bruce (District of Columbia)

Farber, David (District of Columbia)

James, Edgar (District of Columbia)

Kracov, Daniel Adam (District of Columbia)

Mangel, Douglas (District of Columbia)

Martin, Mark Edward (District of Columbia)

Oberdorfer, John L. (District of Columbia)

Romano, Salvatore (District of Columbia)

Rothell, Bonnie (District of Columbia)

Rubenstein, Samuel (District of Columbia)

Schlegel, Richard (District of Columbia)

Treanor, James A (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Feb. 23, 2006 Docket

Order (granting defendant's motion for restraining order)

Berger v. Iron Worker Reinforced Rodmen

1981 WL 2424

Aug. 17, 1981 Order/Opinion

Opinion (ruling in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants as to liability)

Berger v. Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen Local 201

1985 WL 56631

June 7, 1985 Order/Opinion

Opinion (reversing in part and affirming in part district court decision as to liability)

Berger v. Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen Local 201

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

843 F.2d 1395

April 5, 1988 Order/Opinion
567

Report of Special Master (as to damages)

1994 WL 151292

April 14, 1994 Magistrate Report/Recommendation

Opinion (reversing in part and affirming in part district court decision as to damages)

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

170 F.3d 1111

March 30, 1999 Order/Opinion

Settlement Agreement (as to damages)

1999 WL 34870222

Dec. 8, 1999 Settlement Agreement

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Special Collection(s):

Private Employment Class Actions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 21, 1975

Closing Date: 1999

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A class of black rodmen, a type of construction worker, whose union membership was either denied or delayed due to race.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Washington Lawyers' Committee

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Iron Workers Reinforced Rodmen, Local 201, None

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1981

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

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Monetary Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: $1,031,000 approx.

Content of Injunction:

Retaliation Prohibition

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Pattern or Practice

Retaliation

Discrimination-area:

Discipline

Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)

Pay / Benefits

Testing

Training

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

Affected Gender:

Female

Male