Pending Litigation in the District Court for the District of Columbia

Campbell, et al. v. Amtrak, 1:99CV02979 (EGS) 

MAJOR NEW DEVELOPMENTS

  • CLASS CERTIFICATION HAS BEEN DENIED BY THE DISTRICT COURT
  • AMTRAK REQUESTS SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS – TO COMMENCE THIS AUTUMN
  • PLAINTIFFS’ CASES WILL PROCEED INDIVIDUALLY
  • NEW PLAINTIFFS CAN BE INCLUDED IN SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS – MOST NEED TO ACT BY OCTOBER 9, 2018
  • ALL STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS TOLLED BY PARTIES’ AGREEMENT

On April 26, 2018, the District Court for the District of Columbia suddenly canceled the May 11, 2018 hearing that it had recently scheduled, and issued a 107-page ruling on class certification and other related issues.  Most significantly, the Court DENIED class certification entirely.  This means that the claims of African-American employees and applicants who believe they were discriminated against by Amtrak in promotions, hiring, training, terminations, and discipline, will be litigated individually.

Importantly, this also means that, other the 71 named plaintiffs already in Campbell, et al. v. Amtrak, any other African-American employee, former employee, or applicant who was a putative class member in Campbell – in other words, anyone else who wants to have his or her employment race discrimination claim adjudicated – will either have to join Campbell or else file his or her own new case in court.

The Court also ruled that the Campbell Plaintiffs cannot proceed with a “disparate treatment” theory.  This result was not surprising in view of the decision denying class certification.

Here are links to the full text of the District Court’s class certification denial order in Campbell, et al. v. Amtrak, 1:99CV02979 (EGS), and the District Court’s 107-page ruling.

However, after the class certification ruling, Amtrak offered to commence settlement negotiations to try to avoid more litigation – and we have accepted.  Settlement negotiations aimed at a comprehensive global settlement of the entire Campbell litigation will commence in the fall.  

In order to begin settlement negotiations, a number of important things must be done.

  1. As part of the agreement to being negotiations, we insisted, and Amtrak agreed, that all statutes of limitation for filing new cases in court or EEOC charges be tolled – that is, stayed – until October 9, 2018.  This means that we must have everything filed in Court by that date. To participate in the Campbell v. Amtrak case, we must confirm with you by Monday, October 1, 2018 that you want to be in the case.  This can be done by phone or email.  In addition, you must 1) sign a retainer agreement, and 2) complete the New Client Questionnaire before October 9, 2018.  Please understand that there is a legal deadline of October 9, 2018, so your claims may not be included if you do not notify your attorneys by October 1, 2018 of your intent to join. (If, by operation of law, your own particular time to file an EEOC charge or a lawsuit is later than that date, for example, if your claims arose very recently, then you would still have until your later date.)
  2. Former putative class members, in other words, African-American employees at Amtrak in union-represented jobs (other than BMWE-represented workers in the Northeast Corridor), and African-American applicants for such jobs, do not need to formally join Campbell, or file their own cases, until AFTER the settlement negotiations are completed (assuming no settlement is reached), provided they are represented by Campbell plaintiffs’ counsel.
    1. The parties agreed that such persons can be included in the settlement negotiations as long as they are represented by Campbell plaintiffs’ counsel so that we do not have to go through the formal court filings to add plaintiffs. Amtrak is reserving its rights to challenge joinder of any person on legal grounds, should the settlement negotiations fail.
    2. Thus, to be included in the settlement negotiations process, all you have to do is to sign a retainer agreement with Campbell plaintiffs’ counsel.
    3. All statutes of limitations are tolled – beyond the October 9, 2018 date mentioned above – throughout the pendency of the settlement negotiations for all such persons who retain the Campbell plaintiffs’ attorneys.
  3. The parties have agreed to use the services of a mediator this fall. If she is available and willing, the parties will be bringing in Linda Singer of JAMS, who successfully mediated the settlements of the first two cases of the “Amtrak Trilogy.”
  4. The parties will be reporting regularly to the District Court regarding the procedures and progress of the settlement negotiations.
  5. Much communication with existing Campbell plaintiffs and with new Campbell plaintiffs will have to occur in the coming weeks in order to prepare for settlement negotiations.
    1. A questionnaire will be sent to new plaintiffs so that their employment history with Amtrak and their race discrimination claims and their damages are fully understood. We will ask for documents as well.
    2. There will be a great deal of dialogue, including “town hall” style meetings or conference calls with existing and new plaintiffs, and questionnaires, in order to understand everyone’s views on settlement.
  6. Importantly, your individual claims are yours and only you can decide whether or not to settle them. On the other hand, if we do not get full agreement, it is unlikely any settlement will come to fruition.  We have a plan for how to handle this and we will explain it to you in detail.  Our goal must be to have everyone on our side and in agreement on our approach – and then we get to the hard part – getting Amtrak to agree!  If we all pull together, WE CAN DO THIS!
  7. We all must realize that every settlement is a compromise. In a settlement, no one ever gets everything they want.  We must enter into this process committed to understanding that basic principle.
  8. The settlement negotiations will be a process that will take time. We ask for your patience yet again.  However, compared to the long wait we have endured during litigation, this process will move rapidly.  We expect the negotiations to occur over the fall and possibly extend into the winter.
  9. All clients must be involved and engaged and committed to this process. Some will work with the lawyers directly.  But we value everyone’s input and communication.  And remember, this is a confidential process, so we need to have your good contact information, especially email addresses, so that we can communicate effectively.  This webpage will be used for major announcements, but it is publicly accessible, and thus, will not be used for confidential, attorney-client communications.
  10. Right now, we need your help! We want to make sure everyone who has suffered race discrimination at Amtrak since 1996 is able to participate.
    1. Please use all your networking resources to get the word out to your African-American co-workers at Amtrak (in union-represented jobs other than track workers in the NE Corridor) who may want to participate in Campbell. And don’t forget the unsuccessful job applicants, if you know any – they can be part of Campbell, too.
    2. Tell interested people to contact us and get the information they need to join, if they want to. The Campbell “train leaves the station” on October 9, 2018.

Here are additional links to our reports to the District Court regarding tolling the statutes of limitation and the commencement of settlement negotiations.

Stipulation of Tolling of Statutes of Limitation filed July 11, 2018    

Joint Status Report regarding Settlement Negotiations filed July 30, 2018

The following is a quote that Campbell attorney Timothy Fleming gave to Law360, a legal publication, after the class certification denial:

“Today’s decision is disappointing, certainly.  Yet, we have a very resilient and determined group of African-American plaintiffs and co-workers who have persevered for almost 20 years in this case while bravely standing up for equality in Amtrak workplaces all across the country.  We have great respect for this Court, and so we will now study its decision and plan our next steps in the litigation.  We look forward to continuing the fight for workplace justice and equality.”

IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION

Wiggins Childs telephone # dedicated to Campbell v. Amtrak callers: (205)458-1210
Email:  campbellvamtrak@wigginschilds.com

Campbell lead attorney in D.C.:  Timothy Fleming, of counsel

Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher Goldfarb, PLLC
1211 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Suite 420
Washington, D.C. 20036

Campbell attorney in Birmingham office:  Sandra Duca, of counsel

Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher Goldfarb, LLC
The Kress Building
301 19th Street North
Birmingham, AL 35203

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Bob Childs Memoriam

Robert F. Childs Jr. MemberRobert “Bob” Fletcher Childs, Jr., a founding member of Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher & Goldfarb, passed away on March 27th, 2018. Bob’s absence at the downtown Birmingham firm has been a difficult adjustment for Bob’s office family, as his nearly 40 years of consistent attendance had been an unwavering representation of the firm’s staunch belief in the importance of diligence, dependability, and a commitment not only to the clients and cases represented, but as pillars of persistence to each other.

Bob Childs developed his character at an early age as a high school student in Montgomery, Alabama. His dedication to his role as an Academic All-American was only further illuminated by his talents in seemingly all athletic endeavors, as well as a social butterfly who everyone knew and loved. Bob’s younger sister, Susan, recalls being known only as “Bob’s sister” for many of her formative years – an annoying trademark for a sibling just one year below her well-liked brother. Susan’s dismay was shortsighted though, as she recognized her brother’s special place in his community, “He always had a huge heart. Everyone loved him.” This theme followed Bob throughout high school and well into college, where he expanded upon his academic and athletic competence under legendary Coach Bear Bryant.

After high school, Bob earned a full scholarship to the University of Alabama, where he continued his scholastic success while simultaneously earning accolades under Coach Bear Bryant as a defensive linebacker. In 1966, Bob earned a position as the defensive captain who, according to his teammate, Mike Reilly, was rarely second-guessed due to Bob’s honest, genuine nature and ability to stay a step ahead of Assistant Coach Donahue in the planning of strategies and techniques. “Nobody questioned his moral authority,” recalls Reilly. “Leadership was Bob’s way. He was king captain, a leader, gave straight answers, and had a real desire to win. Coach Bryant respected and loved Bob. He would pull Bob to the sideline to make sure the defense was going to pull off plays and Bob would always reassure him. He was the kind of leader Bryant wanted.” Off the field, Bob pushed for his teammates to take their studies seriously – The University of Alabama, per Coach Bryant, was just that: a university, and Bob bought into this mentality. robert childs jr university of alabama footballHe managed to find a balance between athletic praises and academic success impressive enough to earn his place in the University of Alabama Law School class of 1972.

Upon graduation, Bob was recruited to what is now Burr & Forman LLP, where he practiced employment discrimination defense in the form of large class actions. During Pettway vs. American Cast Iron Pipe, Bob met Robert L. Wiggins, an attorney on the opposing side. This chance meeting evolved over the next 20 years, as Wiggins and Childs ultimately became partners in 1985, focusing on employment discrimination as new firm Gordon Silberman Wiggins & Childs. Wiggins remembers Bob as “a very good lawyer, very bright, very well-liked by everybody, even the other side’s lawyers. He was never contentious. Bob was genuine and practical. He had empathy for everyone. He had very little ego.” Bob’s professional forte was heavily weighted in preparing for cases – brief-writing and research were of tremendous focus. “Bob was incredibly detail-oriented; he was always heavily prepared for cases,” laughs Wiggins. “And he was great at detail. Great at grammar! People brought briefs to Bob to make clearer. He was a known editor at the office.” Bob’s ability to earn and maintain the respect of his peers also expanded into a mentor role for younger attorneys at his office, as they seemed to flock to him for professional advice without the threat of judgement, nor the intolerance of mistakes.

Bob Childs was a mainstay at the firm, having been actively working on a large Amtrak case for the last decade. His work was only one driving interest in his life, as he maintained an unflinching interest in all University of Alabama sports, as well as the athletics of his five grandchildren. Over the course of his 71 years, Bob Childs’s integrity, character, and unpretentious approachability impacted so many. Always setting the bar high, Bob’s visions were never short-sighted, his empathy all-encompassing, and his work ethic unsurpassable. He will be greatly missed.

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A New and Improved Website

It has been a busy year so far at the law firm of Wiggins, Childs, Pantazis, Fisher, and Goldfarb, LLC.  We have had the great fortune to engage with new clients, begin new cases, and work with new law firms.  We have been able to reach positive resolutions in tough, important cases.  And we have continued to grow and improve as a law firm.  We have also experienced great loss recently, as one of our founding members, Bob Childs, passed away.

Throughout the ups and downs of life and business, our firm’s commitment to our clients, the law, and to justice, has never wavered.  Now, as we debut a new website, we strive to continue to improve the ways in which we serve our clients, the ways in which we work with referring attorneys, and the ways in which we explain the powerful, important work that our firm does on a daily basis.

We hope you enjoy visiting us on the new website, and that you will continue to check back in for blog updates about our practice, including Q&As with members of the firm, and highlights of recent cases.

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Bob Childs Memoriam

Robert F. Childs Jr. MemberRobert “Bob” Fletcher Childs, Jr., a founding member of Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher & Goldfarb, passed away on March 27th, 2018. Bob’s absence at the downtown Birmingham firm has been a difficult adjustment for Bob’s office family, as his nearly 40 years of consistent attendance had been an unwavering representation of the firm’s staunch belief in the importance of diligence, dependability, and a commitment not only to the clients and cases represented, but as pillars of persistence to each other.

Bob Childs developed his character at an early age as a high school student in Montgomery, Alabama. His dedication to his role as an Academic All-American was only further illuminated by his talents in seemingly all athletic endeavors, as well as a social butterfly who everyone knew and loved. Bob’s younger sister, Susan, recalls being known only as “Bob’s sister” for many of her formative years – an annoying trademark for a sibling just one year below her well-liked brother. Susan’s dismay was shortsighted though, as she recognized her brother’s special place in his community, “He always had a huge heart. Everyone loved him.” This theme followed Bob throughout high school and well into college, where he expanded upon his academic and athletic competence under legendary Coach Bear Bryant.

After high school, Bob earned a full scholarship to the University of Alabama, where he continued his scholastic success while simultaneously earning accolades under Coach Bear Bryant as a defensive linebacker. In 1966, Bob earned a position as the defensive captain who, according to his teammate, Mike Reilly, was rarely second-guessed due to Bob’s honest, genuine nature and ability to stay a step ahead of Assistant Coach Donahue in the planning of strategies and techniques. “Nobody questioned his moral authority,” recalls Reilly. “Leadership was Bob’s way. He was king captain, a leader, gave straight answers, and had a real desire to win. Coach Bryant respected and loved Bob. He would pull Bob to the sideline to make sure the defense was going to pull off plays and Bob would always reassure him. He was the kind of leader Bryant wanted.” Off the field, Bob pushed for his teammates to take their studies seriously – The University of Alabama, per Coach Bryant, was just that: a university, and Bob bought into this mentality. robert childs jr university of alabama footballHe managed to find a balance between athletic praises and academic success impressive enough to earn his place in the University of Alabama Law School class of 1972.

Upon graduation, Bob was recruited to what is now Burr & Forman LLP, where he practiced employment discrimination defense in the form of large class actions. During Pettway vs. American Cast Iron Pipe, Bob met Robert L. Wiggins, an attorney on the opposing side. This chance meeting evolved over the next 20 years, as Wiggins and Childs ultimately became partners in 1985, focusing on employment discrimination as new firm Gordon Silberman Wiggins & Childs. Wiggins remembers Bob as “a very good lawyer, very bright, very well-liked by everybody, even the other side’s lawyers. He was never contentious. Bob was genuine and practical. He had empathy for everyone. He had very little ego.” Bob’s professional forte was heavily weighted in preparing for cases – brief-writing and research were of tremendous focus. “Bob was incredibly detail-oriented; he was always heavily prepared for cases,” laughs Wiggins. “And he was great at detail. Great at grammar! People brought briefs to Bob to make clearer. He was a known editor at the office.” Bob’s ability to earn and maintain the respect of his peers also expanded into a mentor role for younger attorneys at his office, as they seemed to flock to him for professional advice without the threat of judgement, nor the intolerance of mistakes.

Bob Childs was a mainstay at the firm, having been actively working on a large Amtrak case for the last decade. His work was only one driving interest in his life, as he maintained an unflinching interest in all University of Alabama sports, as well as the athletics of his five grandchildren. Over the course of his 71 years, Bob Childs’s integrity, character, and unpretentious approachability impacted so many. Always setting the bar high, Bob’s visions were never short-sighted, his empathy all-encompassing, and his work ethic unsurpassable. He will be greatly missed.

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HIRING CLAIMS IN REYNOLDS V. ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

This section of our website is designed to provide information to former members of the hiring class in Reynolds v. Alabama Department of Transportation. The hiring class in Reynolds v. Alabama Department of Transportation included all African-Americans who claim they were denied hiring opportunities with the Alabama Department of Transportation on the basis of race at any time since May 21, 1979.

The information in this website does not apply to persons who claim only that they were denied a promotion. This website is designed only for informational purposes and should not be construed as an agreement by any attorney or law firm to represent you. To protect your rights and interests, you must carefully follow the instructions in the written Notice that you received by mail or newspaper.

The FAQs (frequently asked questions) in the links above provide additional information but it is your responsibility to follow the instructions in the Notice and you must file an EEOC Charge by the 180-day deadline stated in the Notice provided by the Court if you choose to pursue your claim.

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NOTICE of RIGHT TO JOIN COLLECTIVE ACTION IN RAVEN WILLIAMS, ET. AL. V. ROBERT OMAINSKY AND FRIED, STEWED, NUDE, INC.

DOWNLOAD CONSENT FORM  DOWNLOAD CLASS CERTIFICATION ORDER

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ATTORNEYS INVESTIGATING WAGE THEFT IN CAR DEALERSHIPS

agreement

If you are a car salesman, paid straight commission, no guaranteed draw or no guarantee of earning weekly minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) for each hour worked during the work week, and there were/are pay periods wherein you did not earn minimum wage based on the number of hours you worked for the week, then you are possibly due monetary damages for each and every weekly violation.

 

FORM SCRIPT

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PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS THE LILLY LEDBETTER FAIR PAY ACT

“On January 29, 2009, with the new law’s namesake Lilly Ledbetter there to witness, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — legislation to fight pay discrimination and ensure fundamental fairness to American workers.”

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NELA APPLAUDS LILLY LEDBETTER’S COUNSEL

National Employment Lawyers Association Applauds Lilly Ledbetter’s Cousel

Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantazis, LLC

“Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn’t worth the
hassle and the harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved.
But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. So she
set out on a journey that would take more than ten years, take her all the way to the Supreme
Court of the United States, and lead to this day and this bill which will help others get the justice
that she was denied.”

–President Barack Obama, in remarks at the signing ceremony for the
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act on January 29, 2009.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog_post/AWonderfulDay/

Along with millions of people across the country, NELA celebrated the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter
Fair Pay Restoration Act last Thursday, January 29, 2009. NELA and its coalition partners, including
Lilly Ledbetter herself, worked hard to help beat back several efforts that would have weakened the
legislation.
Many have been acknowledged for making the new Ledbetter law possible, but NELA would be
remiss if we did not recognize the tireless efforts of Lilly Ledbetter’s legal team, Wiggins Childs
Quinn & Pantazis, LLC (Birmingham, AL), who championed Lilly’s case for ten years. Under the
direction of lead counsel Jon Goldfarb, they fought for Lilly, winning at trial only to lose on appeal in
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and then losing by a narrow 5-4 decision in the
U.S. Supreme Court in 2007.
Lilly’s journey – and indeed the Ledbetter law itself – would not have been possible without the years
of commitment and devotion of Wiggins Childs to the cause of equality and justice in the American
workplace.
Although the Ledbetter bill will not undo the years of injustice Lilly faced, or restore the earnings to
which she deserved, we applaud and thank Wiggins Childs for charting the course for this ultimate
victory for all of America’s workers

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NLRB PROPOSES TO REQUIRE ALL COVERED EMPLOYERS TO POST A NOTICE CONTAINING NLRA RIGHTS

Excert taken from The Labor and Employment College

Full article can be seen at World Blog

 

“EMPLOYEE RIGHTS UNDER THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT

 

“The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employers, and to engage in other protected concerted activity. Employees covered by the NLRAare protected from certain types of employer and union misconduct. This Notice gives you general information about your rights, and about the obligations of employers and unions under the NLRA. Contact the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Federal agency that investigates and resolves complaints under the NLRA, using the contact information supplied below, if you have any questions about specific rights that may apply in your particular workplace.

 

“Under the NLRA, you have the right to:

• Organize a union to negotiate with your employer concerning your wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

• Form, join or assist a union.

• Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with your employer setting your wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions.

• Discuss your terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with your co-workers or a union.

• Take action with one or more co-workers to improve your working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with your employer or with a government agency, and seeking help from a union.

• Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing.

• Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union.

 

“Under the NLRA, it is illegal for your employer to:

• Prohibit you from soliciting for a union during non-work time, such as before or after work or during break times; or from distributing union literature during non-work time, in non-work areas, such as parking lots or break rooms.

• Question you about your union support or activities in a manner that discourages you from engaging in that activity.

• Fire, demote, or transfer you, or reduce your hours or change your shift, or otherwise take adverse action against you, or threaten to take any of these actions, because you join or support a union, or because you engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection, or because you

choose not to engage in any such activity.

• Threaten to close your workplace if workers choose a union to represent them.

• Promise or grant promotions, pay raises, or other benefits to discourage or encourage union support.

• Prohibit you from wearing union hats, buttons, t-shirts, and pins in the workplace except under special circumstances.

• Spy on or videotape peaceful union activities and gatherings or pretend to do so.

“Under the NLRA, it is illegal for a union or for the union that represents you in bargaining with your employer to:

• Threaten you that you will lose your job unless you support the union.

• Refuse to process a grievance because you have criticized union

officials or because you are not a member of the union.

• Use or maintain discriminatory standards or procedures in making job referrals from a hiring hall.

• Cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against you because of your union-related activity.

• Take other adverse action against you based on whether you have joined or support the union.

 

“If you and your co-workers select a union to act as your collective bargaining representative, your employer and the union are required to bargain in good faith in a genuine effort to reach a written, binding agreement setting your terms and conditions of employment. The union is required to fairly represent you in bargaining and enforcing the agreement.

 

“Illegal conduct will not be permitted. If you believe your rights or the rights of others have been violated, you should contact the NLRB promptly to protect your rights, generally within six months of the unlawful activity. You may inquire about possible violations without your employer or anyone else being informed of the inquiry. Charges may be filed by any person and need not be filed by the employee directly affected by the violation. The NLRB may order an employer to rehire a worker fired in violation of the law and to pay lost wages and benefits, and may order an employer or union to cease violating the law. Employees should seek assistance from the nearest regional NLRB office, which can be found on the Agency’s website:

www.nlrb.gov.

 

You can also contact the NLRB by calling toll-free:

1-866-667-NLRB (6572) or (TTY) 1-866-315-NLRB (1-866-315-6572) for hearing impaired.

 

“*The National Labor Relations Act covers most private-sector employers. Excluded from coverage under the NLRA are public-sector employees, agricultural and domestic workers, independent contractors, workers employed by a parent or spouse, employees of air and rail carriers covered by the Railway Labor Act, and supervisors (although supervisors that have been discriminated against for refusing to violate the NLRA may be covered).

 

“This is an official Government Notice and must not be defaced by anyone.”

 

According to the press release, “[p]ublic comments are invited on all aspects of the proposed rule, including the issue of the Board’s authority raised by the dissent, and should be submitted within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register, either electronically to www.regulations.gov, or by mail or hand-delivery to Lester Heltzer, Executive Secretary, NLRB, 1099 14th Street NW, Washington DC 20570.”

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