Case: Robbins v. National Aeronautics & Space Administration

No Court

Filed Date: 2013

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

African American and Asian American employees of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration filed a class action lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2013 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Plaintiffs alleged that NASA discriminated against African American and Asian American employees in salary grades 13-15 (generally professionals and mid-level managers). The case was initially assigned to Administrative Judge Laurence Gallagher. Progress in th…

African American and Asian American employees of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration filed a class action lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2013 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Plaintiffs alleged that NASA discriminated against African American and Asian American employees in salary grades 13-15 (generally professionals and mid-level managers). The case was initially assigned to Administrative Judge Laurence Gallagher. Progress in the litigation was delayed by the government shutdown in 2018, departures of administrative judges, and the COVID-19 pandemic. On September 30, 2022, Administrative Judge Stephanie Herrera granted class certification to two classes: all African American employees in General Schedule grades 13-15 who received less than a “Distinguished” rating on their annual performance since October 2012, and all Asian American employees fitting the same criteria since January 2013. 

Plaintiffs alleged that the Employee Performance Communication System (EPCS) used to rate employees for performance appraisals discriminated against African American and Asian American employees by giving them lower ratings compared to white employees. Plaintiffs introduced a statistical analysis that showed significant differences in the ratings for minority employees compared to white employees. Furthermore, plaintiffs alleged that the lack of review of the ratings and the trainings offered about how to use EPCS compounded the discrimination and resulted in African American and Asian American employees receiving fewer monetary awards and promotions than their white counterparts.

The EEOC granted the class after finding that plaintiffs satisfied numerosity, commonality, and typicality requirements. Specifically, the EEOC found that plaintiffs provided evidentiary basis to support an inference that there existed an overriding policy or practice of discrimination and that the statistically significant disparities among minority employees and white employees could not have happened as a result of any other factor. Regarding the commonality requirement, the EEOC also found that the Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes requirement that plaintiff offer significant proof of a general policy of discrimination did not necessarily apply to an EEOC class certification case. 

NASA had until November 10, 2022 to appeal the decision. 

Summary Authors

Anna Lennon (11/2/2022)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Decision Accepting Certification on Proposed Classes

Sept. 30, 2022

Sept. 30, 2022

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:25 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Maryland

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Key Dates

Filing Date: 2013

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

African American and Asian American National Aeronautics & Space Administration employees in salary grades 13-15 who received less than a “Distinguished” rating on their annual performance since 2008 under the Agency-wide performance appraisal system.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Unknown

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

National Aeronautics & Space Administration, Federal

Case Details

Causes of Action:

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

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Available Documents:

None of the above

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

Discrimination Area:

Disparate Impact

Pay / Benefits

Promotion

Discrimination Basis:

Race discrimination

Affected Race(s):

Asian/Pacific Islander

Black

EEOC-centric:

Direct Suit on Merits