Bay Area Employment Lawyer: Costco Gender Discrimination Suit Not A Class Action

10/03/2011 // San Francisco, CA, USA // Keller Grover LLP // Bay Area Employment Lawyer Jeffrey Keller

San Francisco, CA (Bay Area Employment Lawyer News)—Costco, the largest membership warehouse club in the United States, is embroiled in an employment discrimination lawsuit, filed by one current and two former employees who claim they were not promoted to the assistant general manager (AGM) or general manger (GM) positions because of their gender. Costco Wholesale Corporation has since appealed a district court’s order granting class certification in the employment lawsuit, reports Bay Area employment lawyer, Jeffrey Keller of Keller Grover LLP.

According to court documents, the three female plaintiffs assert that Costco’s promotional practices discriminate based on gender, which is why they weren’t granted the AGM and GM positions after openly expressing interest in the jobs and seemingly meeting the qualifications.

But, Costco contends that underlying reasons were why the plaintiffs were not promoted to the positions that they were seeking, not a pattern of misbehavior by Costco.

According to declarations by three experts in support of the plaintiffs, it was alleged that: “Female employees are promoted at a slower rate and are under- represented at the AGM and GM levels relative to their male peers…female Costco employees are under-represented in the Senior Staff Manager, AGM, and GM positions relative to female employees in similar positions at comparable companies…Costco has a pervasive culture of gender stereotyping and paternalism.”

But, Costco’s experts presented contradictory evidence and challenged the relevance and reliability of plaintiffs’ experts’ analysis and conclusions. Costco’s experts contend, “Women are not under-represented at Costco and that any gender disparities, if they exist, are confined to two regions. Costco offered additional expert declarations concluding that gender disparities, if they exist, are based upon factors such as women’s lack of interest in jobs requiring early morning,” the employment lawsuit filings stated.

The lawsuit, which was filed in conjunction with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), moved to designate the employment gender discrimination lawsuit as a Title VII class of all women employed by Costco in the U.S., who were denied promotions to AGM or GM positions. The suit is seeking class-wide injunctive

relief, lost pay, and compensatory and punitive damages, explains the California employment law firm, Keller Grover LLP.

In agreement with the plaintiff’s allegations, the San Francisco district court granted the plaintiff’s motion to certify a class on July 11, 2007, which includes “all current and former female Costco employees nationwide who have been denied promotion to GM or AGM or denied promotion to Senior Staff positions since January 3, 2002.”

Costco has since filed an appeal for the class certification, and stated “The district court committed numerous errors by certifying the class.” Costco alleged that the plaintiffs lacked standing to seek injunctive relief and that the district court failed to perform a “rigorous analysis” of the four requirements of Rule 23a demonstrating that the Plaintiffs had commonality, typicality, numerosity and adequacy of representation. Costco did not challenge the issue of numerosity.

The appeals court found that at least one of the Plaintiffs did in fact have standing, but agreed with Costco that the lower court did not conduct the necessary analysis and relied on improper legal criteria, so they vacated the order as to commonality, or the seeking of a common pattern of behavior applied to the entire class that ties the class together. The case was subsequently remanded to the district court so that the district court could apply the appropriate legal standard for commonality and also for typicality. They additionally, vacated the certification of the class and instructed the circuit court to reconsider the certification based on the single adequate class representative.

The employment and gender discrimination lawyers at Keller Grover LLP are experienced in handling employment law cases. If you or someone you love has been a victim of wrongful termination, workplace discrimination or harassment based on race, sex, age, and disability, or you believe your wage and hour rights were violated, contacting a knowledgeable Bay Area employment lawyer at Keller Grover LLP can help get the justice you deserve.

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