Case: Allen v. Sears, Roebuck and Co.

2:07-cv-11706 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Filed Date: April 17, 2007

Closed Date: 2011

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 17, 2007, former sales associates of Sears, Roebuck & Co. filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") against the company and Sears Home Improvement Products ("SHIP"), a wholly owned subsidiary. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the company violated the ADEA when it transitioned the pla…

On April 17, 2007, former sales associates of Sears, Roebuck & Co. filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") against the company and Sears Home Improvement Products ("SHIP"), a wholly owned subsidiary. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the company violated the ADEA when it transitioned the plaintiffs from their sales positions at Sears to inferior positions at SHIP. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that this transition had a disparate impact because it caused a disproportionate number of employees age forty and older to terminate their employment or be terminated.

Sears formed SHIP in 2001 in order to combine into a single corporation several home improvement companies it had acquired. Citing an interest in expanding its business, the company decided in 2004 to transition the Sears sales associates to SHIP, which the company claimed had one of the best business models in the country for selling home improvement goods. Under the transition plan, each employee was to be terminated by Sears and then hired by SHIP. The plaintiffs claimed, however, that Sears and SHIP offered drastically different compensation and benefits: after the transition, sales associates were no longer reimbursed for business expenses, they lost much of their paid time off, and they worked longer hours while covering a larger sales territory. The plaintiffs alleged that this transition caused many company employees above age 40 either to resign or be terminated.

On August 20, 2007, the Court (Judge George C. Steeh) denied the defendants' motion to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, holding that they had failed to show that fairness and practicality strongly counseled in favor of such a transfer. Allen v. Sears Roebuck & Co., No. 07-11706, 2007 WL 2406921 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 20, 2007). In the same order, the Court denied without prejudice the defendants' motion to dismiss. It determined that the plaintiffs could still allege facts showing that the transition plan constituted an employment policy or practice sufficient to satisfy the first prong of a disparate impact claim.

After several months of discovery, on February 25, 2008, the Court (Judge Steeh) granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the disparate treatment age discrimination claim, although it permitted the plaintiffs to amend their complaint. Allen v. Sears Roebuck & Co., No. 07-11706, 2008 WL 544951 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 25, 2008). The plaintiffs had stated at a November 2007 scheduling conference that they would pursue discovery on a disparate treatment theory in addition to their disparate impact theory. The defendants filed this motion to prevent the plaintiffs from doing so, arguing that they could not raise the disparate treatment claim because that claim was not plead in the complaint. On March 11, 2008, the plaintiffs accepted the court's invitation and amended their complaint to include a count for disparate treatment under the ADEA. The parties then engaged in discovery for the next year.

On April 15, 2009, the Court (Judge Steeh) granted the plaintiffs' motion to conditionally certify a collective action. The defendants then argued that the Portal-to-Portal Act barred the claims of former sales associates who were not named as plaintiffs because the associates failed to file their written opt-in consents in time. The Court (Judge Steeh) rejected this argument in an order issued on January 20, 2010. Allen v. Sears Roebuck & Co., No. 07-11706, 2010 WL 259069 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 20, 2010). It invoked a judicial exception to the filing rule that allows an alleged victim of discrimination who failed to timely file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to "piggy back" on the charge of a plaintiff who did timely file. Because the Court determined that the timely filed claims in this case provided sufficient notice to the defendants that the claims were brought on behalf of all class members, it denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the claims that were not timely filed.

The Court (Judge David M. Lawson) issued an order on July 23, 2010, setting a time and date for a facilitative mediation. The parties failed to reach an agreement, however, and on August 30, 2010, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court (Judge Steeh) granted the motion and dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety on March 10, 2011. Allen v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 803 F. Supp. 2d 690 (E.D. Mich. 2011). In the order, the Court separately analyzed the disparate impact and disparate treatment claims. It explained that the disparate impact claim failed for three reasons: the plaintiffs did not identify a facially neutral practice or policy, they failed to provide statistical evidence that the defendants' decision to eliminate reimbursement and paid time off disproportionately impacted older workers, and the defendants demonstrated that the transition and the related policy decisions were based on reasonable factors other than age, a full affirmative defense to a disparate impact claim. As for the disparate treatment claim, the Court held that this claim failed because none of the plaintiffs experienced an adverse employment action and because the defendants provided legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for the transition and the decisions executing it.

After entering judgment for the defendants, the Court also terminated the case on March 10, 2011.

Summary Authors

Brian Tengel (3/3/2015)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4877790/parties/allen-v-sears-roebuck-and-company/


Judge(s)

Lawson, David M. (Michigan)

Majzoub, Mona K. (Michigan)

Pepe, Steven D (Michigan)

Steeh, George Caram III (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brault, Darcie R (Michigan)

Fagan, Barry S. (Michigan)

Giroux, Robert M Jr. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Alaimo, Michael A (Michigan)

Feeney, James P. (Michigan)

Hermon, James F (Michigan)

Judge(s)

Lawson, David M. (Michigan)

Majzoub, Mona K. (Michigan)

Pepe, Steven D (Michigan)

Steeh, George Caram III (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brault, Darcie R (Michigan)

Fagan, Barry S. (Michigan)

Giroux, Robert M Jr. (Michigan)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Alaimo, Michael A (Michigan)

Feeney, James P. (Michigan)

Hermon, James F (Michigan)

Hickey, Patrick F (Michigan)

Schwartz, Brian (Michigan)

Warren, Richard W (Michigan)

Wilhelm, Paul A (Michigan)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

March 10, 2011 Docket
1

Complaint

April 17, 2007 Complaint
18

Order Denying Defendants’ Motion for Change of Venue and Denying without Prejudice Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss

2007 WL 2406921

Aug. 20, 2007 Order/Opinion
36

Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Disparate Treatment Age Discrimination Claim and Allow Plaintiff to Amend Complaint

2008 WL 544951

Feb. 25, 2008 Order/Opinion
37

Second Amended Complaint and Jury Demand

March 11, 2008 Complaint
131

Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Conditionally Certify a Collective Action [Doc. 84]

April 15, 2009 Order/Opinion
148

Order Regarding Notice and Consent to Join Forms

June 29, 2009 Order/Opinion
161

Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 150]

2010 WL 259069

Jan. 20, 2010 Order/Opinion
245

Order Granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 207]

803 F.Supp.2d 690

March 10, 2011 Order/Opinion
247

Judgment

March 10, 2011 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4877790/allen-v-sears-roebuck-and-company/

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

ECF Number Description Date Link
18

ORDER denying 8 Defendants' Motion to Change Venue; denying without prejudice 9 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Honorable George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

Aug. 20, 2007 RECAP
36

ORDER granting 23 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' disparate treatment age discrimination claim and allowing plaintiff to amend complaint. Signed by Honorable George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

Feb. 25, 2008 RECAP
55

ORDER granting 41 Motion to Extend; denying 42 Motion to Compel; granting 44 Motion to Compel and granting 51 Motion to Compel - Signed by Magistrate Judge Mona K Majzoub. (LBar)

June 10, 2008 RECAP
78

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 63 Motion for Ruling in Defendants' Favor as to the Unresolved Discovery Issues and granting in part and denying in part 66 Plaintiffs' Cross Motion Regarding Unresolved Discovery Issues. Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (CGre)

Nov. 25, 2008 RECAP
94

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 73 Second Motion to Compel Discovery - Signed by Magistrate Judge Mona K Majzoub. (LBar)

Jan. 6, 2009 RECAP
95

ORDER re 78 REPORT ON REVIEW OF CONTACT FILES - Signed by Magistrate Judge Mona K Majzoub. (LBar)

Jan. 8, 2009 RECAP
130

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 80 Third Motion to Compel - Signed by Magistrate Judge Mona K Majzoub. (LBar)

March 30, 2009 RECAP
131

ORDER granting 84 Plaintiffs' Motion to Conditionally Certify a Collective Action. Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

April 15, 2009 RECAP
148

ORDER regarding Notice and Consent to Join Forms (re 137 Motion for Approval of Defendants' notice and consent form re: #131 Order on Motion to Certify Class). Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

June 29, 2009 RECAP
161

ORDER denying 150 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

Jan. 20, 2010 RECAP
186

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 162 Motion for Protective Order Regarding Deposition Notices for Twenty Opt-In Plaintiffs - Signed by Magistrate Judge Mona K Majzoub. (LBar)

April 5, 2010 RECAP
199

ORDER granting in part 191 Motion to Compel Attendance at Depositions - - Signed by Magistrate Judge Mona K Majzoub. (LBar)

June 4, 2010 RECAP
244

ORDER granting 204 defendants' Motion to exclude opt-in plaintiff Charles Nikias. Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

March 10, 2011 RECAP
245

ORDER granting 207 defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

March 10, 2011 RECAP
246

ORDER denying 218 defendants' Motion to exclude testimony and opinions of Nitin Paranjpe, PH.D.. Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)

March 10, 2011 RECAP

State / Territory: Michigan

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 17, 2007

Closing Date: 2011

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Former employees of Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Sears, Roebuck and Co., Private Entity/Person

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

Attorneys fees

Damages

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Discrimination-area:

Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff

Discrimination-basis:

Age discrimination