Employment Discrimination Project Clients Awarded $11 Million Consent Decree

EEOC Race Discrimination Case Against YRC/Yellow Transportation Ends with $11 Million Decree
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release
June 29, 2012

An $11 million consent decree entered here today in federal court has ended the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) race harassment and discrimination lawsuit against a major transportation company. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox granted preliminary approval of the decree.  

In its suit, the EEOC charged that Yellow Transportation, Inc. and YRC, Inc. subjected African-American employees at its Chicago Ridge, Ill., facility to a racially hostile working environment and discriminatory terms and conditions of employment. Yellow Transportation operated the facility until its merger with Roadway Express, when the two companies combined operations to form YRC Inc. in October 2008.  

Had the case gone to trial, the EEOC was prepared to present evidence that black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman’s nooses and racist graffiti, comments and cartoons. The EEOC was also would have presented evidence that Yellow and YRC subjected black employees to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts and gave them more difficult and time-consuming work assignments. This would include expert testimony that these practices resulted in statistically significant differences in the way blacks and whites were treated. Numerous black employees, according to the EEOC, had complained about all of these conditions over the years, but the company continually failed to take effective action to correct the problems.  

Under the consent decree settling the suit, signed by Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox, $11 million will be paid to the discrimination victims. The Chicago Ridge facility closed in 2009, however, many African-American employees from Chicago Ridge continue to work at YRC’s Chicago Heights facility. The Chicago Heights facility was itself the subject of a separate lawsuit by the EEOC against YRC with similar allegations, resulting in a $10 million settlement in 2010. That first consent decree (Chicago Heights) will also protect the victims of the second lawsuit at Chicago Ridge...

The consent decree resolves two lawsuits that were consolidated for purposes of the settlement. A group of 14 employees initially filed a class action suit under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act in October 2008 (Brown, et al. v. Yellow Transportation, Inc. No. 08 CV 5908). The EEOC then filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination (EEOC v. Yellow Transportation, Inc. and YRC, INC. No. 09 CV 7693). The plaintiffs in the Brown litigation are represented by [Randall] Schmidt of the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School, as well as private counsel Carol Coplan Babbitt and Catherine Caporusso.

Randall D. Schmidt