Sworn statements explained how women at Microsoft are undervalued in comparison to men, are denied opportunities that men receive, are left out of important meetings, and work in a sexualized environment in which male employees stare at women’s breasts, grope them, and comment on their bodies and clothes. One woman explained the pressure that she and other women feel to “hit the sweet spot between being perceived as ‘too timid’ or ‘overly passionate’ and ‘too harsh’ in Microsoft’s male-dominated culture.” Her male manager lowered performance ratings for her and the team of women she supervised because he believed they did not “smile enough.”
Standing is like a light switch; a plaintiff has either alleged an identifiable injury or not. The concept of Article III standing is used by the courts to distinguish between a dispute that is properly before the court, rather than an abstract interest intended to be addressed by the legislature. Given this, the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have consistently held that a minimal injury is sufficient to confer standing and have never weighed one’s injury relative to their resources.
The Court’s decision, in our opinion, is a grave departure from the goals of efficiency and economy inherent to class actions. Requiring plaintiffs to preemptively file multiple actions unnecessarily burdens the judiciary and clogs the system with duplicative cases. The Court’s decision also is at odds with what we regard as the reality of modern class actions in that many do not have a final decision on class certification within two or four years, for reasons outside the named plaintiff’s control. Necessary discovery, taxed courts, appeals, and recalcitrant defendants all slow the process and often prevent the parties from obtaining a final ruling on class certification within the first few years. In addition, orders denying class certification may identify remediable issues that can be addressed only by filing a new action. This week’s ruling prohibits plaintiffs who initially timely filed their case from filing those new actions if the court’s class certification order arrives outside the original statute of limitations.
Employers have consistently taken the position that challenges to employment processes that involve some element of subjectivity – and most do – cannot be brought on a class basis after Dukes. According to the logic of this argument, only non-discretionary evaluation measures, such as standardized tests or physical fitness tests, will satisfy commonality under Rule 23(a). Fortunately, a recent opinion from the Southern District of New York joins the growing list of decisions rejecting this extreme position.
The Ninth Circuit recently ruled that evidence offered in support of class certification need not meet standards for admissibility at trial. In a published opinion, Sali v. Corona Regional Medical Center, No 15-56460 (9th Cir. May 3, 2018), the panel reversed and remanded the district court’s determination that plaintiffs failed to satisfy typicality, adequacy, and predominance.
As explained in the amicus brief, that decision was an unwarranted departure from well-established precedent that differences between state consumer protection laws do not defeat predominance of common questions as to the defendant’s uniform misconduct. This precedent has facilitated nationwide class action settlements both within the Ninth Circuit and sister circuits for years. As the Impact Fund and their fellow amici explained, “Litigation is costly and time-consuming for plaintiffs, defendants, and the court system alike,” which has led to a “strong judicial policy” in favor of settlements. Contravening this policy, the divided majority panel “added requirements and shifted burdens” that would unfortunately operate to prevent settlement of nationwide claims.
On November 29, 2017, a representative action was filed in the U.K. alleging that Google was tracking activity of Apple Safari users without their knowledge or consent. They were then aggregating this data and selling the information to advertisers for a substantial profit. This conduct is alleged to violate the Data Protection Act of 1998. The claimants are looking for damages for the infringement of their data protection rights, and for the commission of the wrong and loss of control over personal data.
A fair workplace, free from discrimination, is an American ideal. Many of our nations F500 companies reflect this value in their forward-facing materials and practices, but sadly, at the contractual level with workers, the promise of an even playing field gets tilted…
That’s why, on August 17, 2017, together with NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA.
Last month, Lambda Legal and Transgender Law Center appealed the Secretary’s denial of the petition to the Federal Circuit, arguing in part that the denial of coverage for sex reassignment surgeries is sex discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment. We agree. Standing in solidarity, we have authored an amicus brief.
For a decade now, the Impact Fund Training Institute has served as a catalyst for thoughtful and thorough class action litigation. Over the past ten years we have trained over 250 attorneys giving them the knowledge and foundation they need to advance justice in the United States. The conference has assisted in bridging the gap between private firms and nonprofit organizations by highlighting opportunities for collaboration.
Institute alumnus, Jacob Bell, sat down with us recently to share his experience and reflect on the value of the training institute to him.
The Third Circuit handed down an opinion last Monday holding that a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) confers Article III standing even in the case of intangible injuries.
The opinion may prove to be less interesting for its impact on TCPA jurisprudence than for guiding courts in their efforts to understand and apply the Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision. After all, within the TCPA context, there already appears to be a consensus that statutory violations satisfy Article III’s requirements.
While the Microsoft case is a clear victory for corporate defendants, there is some language in the opinion that may be useful in another important fight in a different venue. H.R. 985, the anti-class action bill passed earlier this year by the House, would permit an interlocutory appeal from every class certification order. The high court’s opinion strongly endorsed a contrary perspective – it highlighted the wisdom of Rule 23(f)’s “careful calibration” of the question as well as the preference for determining such issues through rulemaking rather than legislation. Senate Judiciary Committee, are you listening?
On March 6, 2017, in a federal courtroom filled with veterans and family members of veterans, Judge Michelle Burns took the bench to read her findings in the medical malpractice action that Steve Cooper, an eighteen-year veteran of the US Army, brought against the VA hospital in Phoenix for failing to diagnose his cancer.
Lainey explains the approach in clear and well-organized chapters, with illustrations from dozens of successful negotiations against major banks, retailers, and even Major League Baseball. One of the rewarding “sub-plots” of the book is the fascinating evolution of accessible technology over the past two decades for those who are “print-disabled.” She explains how “talking ATMs,” accessible websites and audio description for movies have become state-of-the-art methods for corporations to better serve all of their customers.
On March 2, 2017, Impact Fund filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which at the time was poised to be the first of the transgender access cases to be heard in the Supreme Court. Our brief supports Gavin Grimm, a 17-year old high school student in Gloucester County, Virginia. Gavin is challenging a local school board policy that prohibits transgender students from using the sex-segregated facilities (such as restrooms) that are consistent with their gender identity. The policy is similar to North Carolina’s notorious H.B. 2 legislation and equally discriminatory.
While the value of class actions is a hot topic for some, what shouldn’t be a matter of debate is that once a class action is settled, there is only one objective – informing class members of their legal rights and, if class members can get money, clearly telling them how to get it. This is especially true in common fund settlements. It’s not only good for the settlement, its good public policy in general.
121 Civil Rights Non-Profits and 87 Ally Firms Oppose H.R. 985. On February 14, the Impact Fund submitted a letter on behalf of 121 civil rights non-profit organizations and advocates, joined by 87 ally law firms, to oppose H.R. 985 (“Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017”). H.R. 985, currently pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, would upend decades of settled class action law and undermine the enforcement of U.S. civil rights law.
Most people do not retain receipts for the myriad of food items and inexpensive consumer goods that they purchase each year. But, should this entirely understandable fact of modern life provide a license to corporations to defraud consumers who buy these products?
APPELLATE RULINGS IN 2016 REVEAL “BIG PICTURE” FOR RACE DISCRIMINATION
Earlier this summer, voting rights advocates won a stunning string of victories in federal courts across the country. In one decision after another, courts struck down voting restrictions enacted by state legislatures emboldened by the Supreme Court’s myopic Shelby County decision.
Of particular note was the Fourth Circuit’s decision in North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. McCrory, a must-read for all civil rights litigators...
Earlier this year, the North Carolina legislature passed a sweeping anti-LGBT bill, H.B. 2, which requires public schools and agencies to discriminate against transgender people by prohibiting them from using sex-segregated restrooms according to their gender identity. Plaintiffs Joaquín Carcaño, the ACLU of North Carolina, and others filed a lawsuitchallenging H.B. 2 as unlawful discrimination against transgender individuals under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.