U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION

                                                               SAINT LOUIS DISTRICT OFFICE

 

If you were employed by EPA Region VII between May 11, 1998 and August 31, 2007, and were age 40 or older, or if you are Black and were age 40 or older, a class action lawsuit may affect your rights.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission authorized this notice.

This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.

 

                      EPA employees over age 40 have sued EPA Region VII before the EEOC for age and racial discrimination in training, advancement and other opportunities.

 

                      The Commission has certified the Class Complaint as a class action on behalf of all Region VII employees, including former employees, who were at least 40 years of age (including a subclass of Black employees) between May 11, 1998 and August 31, 2007.

 

                      The Commission has not determined whether EPA did anything wrong. There is no money or relief available now, nor any guarantee there will be.


YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS LAWSUIT

DO NOTHING           

Stay in this lawsuit. Await the outcome.

You do not have to do anything to keep the possibility of getting money or benefits which may come from a trial or a settlement.

PARTICIPATE

Become a Class Agent or otherwise assist or contribute.

You are also eligible to participate in the case by becoming a Class Agent and assisting the Class Counsel in representing your fellow employees in this case. You may also choose to provide assistance with information or by contributing to the costs of prosecuting this case. Class Agents and members who contribute funds may be eligible for enhanced recovery at the time of decision or settlement.

 

                      Your options, legal rights, the nature of the class action case and proceedings are explained in this notice.

 

                      Class Counsel must prove the claims against EPA unless the case is settled. If money or benefits are obtained, you will be notified about how to submit a claim.

 

                      Any questions? Read on and visit www.Spiegellaw.com


WHAT THIS NOTICE CONTAINS


 

BASIC INFORMATION

1.Why did I get this notice?

2.What is this class action about?

3.What is a class action and who is involved?

4.Why is this lawsuit a class action?

 

THE CLAIMS IN THE LAWSUIT

5.What practices or policies does this lawsuit allege discriminate?

6.How does EPA answer?

7.Has the Commission decided who is right?

8.What are the Plaintiffs asking for?

9.Is there any money available now?

 

WHO IS IN THE CLASS

10.Am I part of this Class?

11.Which current and former employees are included?

 

YOUR RIGHTS AND OPTIONS

12.What happens if I do nothing?

13.How can I participate?

14.Can I ask to be excluded from this Class Action?

 

THE HEARING (TRIAL)

15.How and when will the Commission decide who is right?

16.Do I have to come to the trial hearing?

17.How will I know about getting money after the trial?

 

THE LAWYER REPRESENTING YOU

18.Do I have a lawyer in this case?

19.Should I get my own lawyer?

20.How will the lawyer be paid?

 

GETTING MORE INFORMATION

21.Is more information available?

 





BASIC INFORMATION

 

            1.         Why did I get this notice?


            The records of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or “Agency”), show that you are either currently employed, or were employed at EPA Region VII, and were at least age 40, during the time from May 11, 1998 to August 31, 2007. This notice explains that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has allowed, or “certified,” a class action lawsuit which may affect you. You have legal rights and options that you may exercise before the Commission holds a trial by hearing. The trial is to decide whether the claims being made against EPA, on your behalf, are correct. Administrate Judge Andrea Niehoff of the EEOC’s Hearing Office located in St. Louis, Missouri is overseeing this class action. The lawsuit is known as Clopton, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, EEOC Case No. 280-A0-04324X .


            2.         What is this class action about?


            EPA employees over age 40 have instituted a class action before the EEOC and against EPA Region VII for age and racial discrimination in training, advancement and other opportunities. As discussed further below, the Class is alleging that EPA gave preferential treatment to younger newly hired employees at the expense of predominantly older and Black career employees. More information about federal laws prohibiting job discrimination can be found at the website of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, www.eeoc.gov


            3.         What is a class action and who is involved?


            A "class" is a group of agency employees, former employees and /or applicants for employment on whose behalf it is alleged that they have been, are being, or may have been adversely affected by agency personnel management policies or practices which are considered discriminatory.


            A class action is a written complaint of discrimination filed on behalf of the class by the agent(s) of the class. The Class Agents for this case are Carol A. Clopton and Emajo Mayberry who instituted this case in 2000 and who have worked on it on your behalf since that time. This proceeding before the Commission provides for the resolution of the issues and claims of all members of the Class.


            Class complaints are processed by the EEOC in a four-stages. The first stage is the establishment of a class complaint. The second stage is a determination from an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ), subject to EPA final action, and Commission Appellate review, as to whether to certify the complaint as a class action. Once a complaint is certified, then the members of the class receive notification as is being done here. The third stage involves discovery and a hearing, after which the AJ issues a recommended decision on the merits, subject to a final agency action, and subject to appellate review. The fourth stage, where there has been a finding of class-based discrimination, is the determination for relief for the submitted claims of the individual class members.


QUESTIONS? VISIT WWW.Spiegellaw.com


            4.         Why is this lawsuit a class action?


            The Commission determined that this lawsuit can proceed to hearing because it meets the requirements of a class action as contained in its regulations at 29 C.F.R. 1614.204. Specifically, the Commission (in its September 14, 2004 Appellate Decision) found:


                      That the Class satisfied the “commonality” requirement because “all senior employees in Region VII over the age of 40, are adversely impacted by the same “practice” of not being offered rotational assignments that were offered to the predominantly younger employees;


                      That the Class satisfied the “typicality” requirement because “these class members all suffer the same harm. i.e., loss of a significant career enhancing opportunity, to the undue advantage of the 52 younger newly hired employees;” and


                      That the Class satisfied the “numerosity” requirement because the Class Agents established that there were approximately 425 employees in Region VII in 1998 who were affected by the practices and that joinder of each class member would be impractical.


            More information about why the Commission is allowing this lawsuit to be a class action is in the Commission Orders Certifying the Class, available at www.spiegellaw.com


THE CLAIMS IN THE LAWSUIT


            5.         What practices or policies does this lawsuit allege discriminate?


            The class consists of the defined employees who were not offered the same opportunities to participate in rotational opportunities that were provided to newly hired employees during this time period, who were not required to backfill their positions while on assignments. The class further alleges that as a result of not participating in these rotational opportunities, which were allegedly career enhancing, the Agency provided an undue advantage to the newly hire employees in such areas as, promotions, accelerated leave accumulation, within-grade step increases “out of time” and placement in higher leave earning categories without having to meet tenure requirements. A copy of the February 11, 2008 Certification Order is provided.


            6.         How does EPA answer?


            The EPA denies the allegations, and that the career employees could have received training and rotational assignments.

            7.         Has the Commission decided who is right?


            The Commission has not decided who is right, it has only decided that the allegations if proven would constitute discriminatory practices and that the factual questions of the practices and their harmful impacts are common to all the class members.


QUESTIONS? VISIT WWW.Spiegellaw.com


            8.         What are the Plaintiffs asking for?


            The Class is seeking that the alleged discriminatory practices be ended, and that the members of the Class be made whole through provision of training and advancement opportunities, and compensation and benefits for the opportunities and treatment they were not provided. 


            9.         Is there any money available now?


             There is no money or relief available now, nor any guarantee there will be.


WHO IS IN THE CLASS


            10.       Am I part of this Class?


            You are part of the Class if you meet the class definition: “The class consists of all Region VII employees of the EPA, including current and former employees, who were at least 40 years of age (including a subclass of Black employees who were at least 40 years of age), and who were employed by the Agency at any time during the period of May 11, 1998, through August 31, 2007.” A copy of the February 11, 2008 Certification Order is provided.


            11.       Which current and former employees are included?


            As identified above, all Region VII EPA employees who were employed, and who were 40 years old or older, at any time between May 11, 1998, through August 31, 2007, are members of the Class. This includes employees who were employed during that time and are now former employees, provided you were 40 years old or older while employed.


            This Class of employees includes within it what is known as a subclass of Black employees who additionally suffered racial discrimination in addition to age discrimination.


YOUR RIGHTS AND OPTIONS


            12.       What happens if I do nothing?


            You do not have to do anything to remain eligible to receive money or benefits which may come from a hearing decision or a settlement. Class members do not have to participate during the hearing process to recover. However, once a determination of class discrimination has been made or a settlement reached, individual class members will be required to file a claim in order to recover. You will receive a notice of such determination or settlement and the opportunity to submit a claim.


            13.       How can I participate?


            You are eligible to participate in the case by becoming a Class Agent and assisting the Class Counsel in representing your fellow employees in this case. You may also choose to provide assistance with information, or by contributing to the costs of prosecuting this case. Class Agents and members who contribute funds may be eligible for enhanced recovery at the time of decision or settlement. Following the notice, you will also have the opportunity to object to any proposed settlement.


            14.       Can I ask to be excluded from this Class Action?


            No. Under the procedures of the EEOC for class actions, individual class members do not have the option of “opting out” of the defined class; these proceedings are binding on you. However, class members are not required to either participate in the class or to file a claim for individual relief. All class members will have the opportunity to object to any proposed settlement, as well as to file claims for individual relief if class discrimination is found. 


QUESTIONS? VISIT WWW.Spiegellaw.com


THE HEARING (TRIAL)


            15.       How and when will the Commission decide who is right?


            As long as the case is not resolved by a settlement, the Class Counsel will have to prove the Class Complainants’ claims at a hearing before the Administrative Judge. A hearing date has not yet been set. The AJ will soon set a schedule for conducting discovery to collect information relating to the charges. Following the completion of discovery, a hearing would then be held for submission of evidence and live testimony.


            16.       Do I have to come to the trial hearing?


            As a Class Member, you are not required to attend the hearing, but you have the right to attend. Current employees may be required to give testimony if directed by the AJ.


            17.       How will I know about getting money after the trial?


            If the Plaintiffs obtain money or benefits as a result of the trial or a settlement, as a class member, you will be receive notice of any settlement or decision on the class complaint whether or not you participated in the action. We do not know how long it will take to decide or resolve this case. 


QUESTIONS? VISIT WWW.Spiegellaw.com


THE LAWYER REPRESENTING YOU


            18.       Do I have a lawyer in this case?


            The Commission decided that Steven M. Spiegel of Alexandria VA is qualified to represent you and all Class Members. Mr. Spiegel is the “Class Counsel.” He is experienced in handling discrimination cases against employers and in litigation . More information about Mr. Spiegel and his experience is available at www.Spiegellaw.com.


            19.       Should I get my own lawyer?


            You do not need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel is working on your behalf. But, if you want your own lawyer, you will have to pay that lawyer. For example, you can ask him or her to appear at the Hearing for you if you want someone other than Class Counsel to speak for you.


            20.       How will the lawyer be paid?


            If Class Counsel gets money or benefits for the Class, he may ask the Commission for fees and expenses. You won’t have to pay these fees and expenses. If the Commission grants Class Counsel’s request, the fees and expenses would be either deducted from any money obtained for the Class and/or paid separately by EPA.


GETTING MORE INFORMATION


            21.       Is more information available?

 

Yes. You may obtain more information, in recommended order, by visiting the website, www.Spiegellaw.com where you will find the Commission orders certifying the Class, and other pleadings, documents and developments. You may also contact Class Counsel via email at Sspiegel@spiegellaw.com, or by mail at 3917 Keller Ave., Alexandria, VA 22302-1817, or by calling 703-998-6780.

 

QUESTIONS? VISIT WWW.Spiegellaw.com