Court Certifies Classes In Costco Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Court Certifies Classes In Costco Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

September 26, 2012 — U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen yesterday granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in the Costco gender discrimination class action lawsuit. Female employees represented by co-counsel charge that Costco discriminates against women in promotions to management positions.

“The Court’s ruling shows that the Wal-Mart decision does not prevent women from challenging allegedly discriminatory workplace policies and practices that affect women on a classwide basis,” stated Lieff Cabraser partner Daniel M. Hutchinson. “We look forward to Costco’s female employees having their day in court.”

In January 2007, the Court certified a class consisting of over 750 current and former female Costco employees nationwide who have been denied promotion to General Manager or Assistant Manager since January 3, 2002. Costco appealed. In September 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the case to the district court to make class certification findings consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541 (2011).

In yesterday’s order, the Court certified two classes under Rule 23(b)(2) and 23(b)(3) as follows:

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.

The Court found the Costco class action differed from Dukes class action in several material ways, including that “the size of the class at issue is a mere fraction of that in Dukes;” “the scope of the proposed class is far more limited and focused than that in Dukes;” the Plaintiffs present concrete evidence of “cultural and cognitive bias” and statistical evidence demonstrating classwide gender disparities; and “most important, Plaintiffs in this case identify specific employment practices Costco implements companywide under the influence and control of top management.” (Order, at 23-24, 60-61.)