On August 17, 2004, an employment discrimination class action lawsuit was filed against Costco Wholesale Corporation. The class action, Ellis v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, was brought by a female Costco assistant manager on behalf of herself and all current and former female Costco employees across America who have been subjected to gender discrimination in promotion to assistant manager and general manager positions.
The suit charged that Costco operates a “glass ceiling” that stops women from getting promoted to assistant manager and general manager positions.
On January 11, 2007, U.S. District Judge Marilyn H. Patel certified the class, finding that the three current and former Costco employees may represent all women employed by Costco in the United States denied promotion to assistant and/or general manager positions since January 3, 2002.
Costco appealed that decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
In 2011, the Court of Appeals issued an order directing the District Court to reconsider if the case should be certified as a class action.
On September 25, 2012, U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen granted Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification. The Court certified two classes:
- Injunctive Relief Class: All women who are currently employed or who will be employed at any Costco warehouse in the U.S. who have been or will be subject to Costco’s system for promotion to Assistant General Manager and/or General Manager positions;
- Monetary Relief Class: All women who have been employed at any Costco warehouse store in the U.S. since January 3, 2002 who have been subject to Costco’s system for promotion to Assistant General Manager and/or General Manager positions.
In late 2013, after nearly ten years of litigation, the parties agreed to settle the case. On February 12, 2014, the district court granted preliminary approval of the parties’ proposed class action settlement. Notice of the settlement was mailed to all class members on February 26, 2014.
On May 27, 2014, the court granted final approval of the parties’ proposed class action settlement.