FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions

  1. What is this lawsuit about?
  2. What is a class action?
  3. Who are the plaintiffs in this case?
  4. Who are the attorneys representing the class in this case?
  5. Am I a member of the class in this case?
  6. What do I have to do to be in the class?
  7. How can I find out more?
  8. What will women get if Costco loses or settles?
  9. What will happen next?
  10. Will it cost me anything to be included in this case?
  11. What if Costco retaliates against me?
  12. Can I participate in the case if I signed a statement for Costco in 2006?
  13. How long will the case take?
  14. When do I have to act?
  15. What if I have other issues against Costco?

Answers

    1. What is this lawsuit about?  Three female Costco managers filed this employment discrimination class action lawsuit against Costco Wholesale Corporation. The suit charges that Costco operates a “glass ceiling” at the store-management level which delays or prevents women from getting promoted to Assistant Manager and General Manager positions.
    1. What is a class action?  A class action is a suit brought by individuals on behalf of a large group of people with the same basic claims. A judge decides if the case meets the legal requirements for a class action. If the requirements are met, class members are automatically covered by the suit, unless they ask to be excluded. The case either goes to trial or the claims are resolved before trial in a settlement for the entire class.
    1. Who are the plaintiffs in this case?  The plaintiffs who brought this case are Shirley Rae Ellis, Leah Horstman, and Elaine Sasaki. Ms. Ellis was formerly an Assistant General Manager at Costco’s Douglas County, Colorado warehouse. Ms. Horstman was formerly a Receiving Manager at Costco’s La Mesa, CA warehouse. Ms. Sasaki was hired by Costco in 1985. She is currently an Assistant Manager in Costco’s Visalia, California warehouse. Ms Ellis, Ms. Horstman and Ms. Sasaki are also the representatives of the class.
    1. Who are the attorneys representing the class in this case?  Five firms are working together on this case; their lead lawyers are listed in parenthesis.

      Impact Fund, a Berkeley, CA based nonprofit foundation (Jocelyn D. Larkin); www.impactfund.org

      Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, a national plaintiffs firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville (Kelly M. Dermody and Daniel Hutchinson); www.lieffcabraser.com

      Davis, Cowell & Bowe, LLP, a labor and employment firm with offices in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Boston (Steve Stemerman and Elizabeth A. Lawrence); www.daviscowellandbowe.com

      Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C., an employment law firm with offices in Oakland, CA (Bill Lann Lee and Lindsay Nako), www.lewisfeinberg.com

      Altshuler Berzon LLP, a law firm that specializes in labor and employment, environmental, constitutional, campaign and election, and civil rights law with offices in San Francisco, CA (James M. Finberg), www.altshulerberzon.com.

      These firms have extensive class action and employment rights experience, including work on some of the largest sex and race discrimination cases ever brought.

    2. Am I a member of the class in this case?  The class consists of all women employed by Costco in the United States who were subject to Costco’s system for promotion to Assistant General Manager or General Manager positions since January 3, 2002. If you are a class member, you should have received a notice from the court about the case in December 2012. If you did not choose to exclude yourself from the class during the opt-out period, then you are a member of the class.
    1. What do I have to do to be in the class?  Nothing at this time, except please click here to provide us with a current address and basic information so we can assess your claims. If your address changes, please update your information by clicking here.
    1. How can I find out more?  You can keep track of this case by periodically checking this website. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys, please contact us through this website or call class counsel toll-free at 1-866-501-2300.The information you provide will assist us in the preparation of the case. There is no cost or obligation for our review of your information. Class counsel agree to protect your name and all confidential information you submit against disclosure, publication or unauthorized use to the full extent under the law.
    1. What will women get if Costco loses or settles?  The women are seeking an order to reform Costco’s practices, and to recover lost wages and benefits for the women who have been victims of its discriminatory practices. They also seek punitive damages.
    1. What will happen next?  The case is set for trial on January 21, 2014 in federal court in San Francisco. The attorneys will be preparing the case in the next months.
    1. Will it cost me anything to be included in this case?  No. There is no cost to you to be part of the case.
    1. What if Costco retaliates against me?  It is unlawful for Costco to retaliate against you for involvement in this case. If you believe it is doing so, please contact us at once either through this website, or by calling 1-866-501-2300. Costco cannot speak to class members about their individual claims of denial of promotion to Assistant General Manager or General Manager positions. Please contact us if Costco has tried to talk to you about these matters.
    1. Can I participate in the case if I signed a statement for Costco in 2006?  Yes. The statement (or “declaration”) may not be used against you to limit your remedies and words to the effect that Costco did not engage in gender discrimination are no longer in the record.
    1. How long will the case take?  The case is set for trial next year, so it is nearing its conclusion. An appeal could delay its final resolution.
    1. When do I have to act?  If you think you might have a claim, it is important that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can assess your claims.
  1. What if I have other issues against Costco?  This case only involves company-wide claims of sex discrimination. You may have other claims, such as denial of overtime, or other types of discrimination claims. You may also feel that Costco treats its workers unfairly. We are not handling these other claims. Here are some resources you can check into:

    The National Employment Lawyers Association: 415-296-7629

    The National Employee Rights Institute (NERI) at www.nerinet.org

    The International Brotherhood of Teamsters which represents some hourly Costco employees in California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia at http://www.teamster.org/

    Your local United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or state anti-discrimination agency