Sanford Heisler Receives Long-Pending EEOC Decision

Posted July 18th, 2012.

EEOC Orders Class Certification Dating to 1994 for African-Americans
Discriminated Against on Basis of Race; 18 Years Believed Longest-Ever Period

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(July 18, 2012, Washington, D.C.) – The decision was a long time coming, but appears to have been worth the wait.

This month David Sanford, a partner and founder at Sanford Wittels & Heisler, a leading national public interest law firm, received a decision from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on a class action appeal filed in 2007. The decision gives the green light for certification of a class complaint originally filed in July 1994, asserting that African-Americans are systematically discriminated against based on race by the U.S. Marshall’s Service (USMS).

Mr. Sanford represents the complainant and class representative Matthew F. Fogg and the class in the matter, now cited as Matthew F. Fogg v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, Department of Justice. In 2010, Mr. Sanford was lead counsel in the nation’s largest gender discrimination class action to go to trial, which settled after winning a $253 million verdict from a federal jury in New York.

 “This is a very welcome outcome, given the serious nature and pervasiveness of the racial discrimination within the USMS since at least the mid-1990s.  We are prepared to move forward immediately to ensure there are no further delays in securing justice for the many African-American men and women whose employment by the Service has been adversely affected by its illegal practices.”

The class includes all African-American U.S. Marshals between July 1994 and the present.  The 18-year period for determining membership in the class is believed to be the longest ever certified in an employment complaint in the U.S.

After a month-long trial in April 1998, a jury in Washington, D.C. awarded Mr. Fogg four million dollars in his race discrimination matter against the U.S. Marshals Service.  At that trial, numerous witnesses described the Marshals Service as having labored in substantial racial turmoil for at least a decade.

The EEOC’s decision reversing the agency’s previous denial of class complaint certification is signed by Carlton M. Hadden, Director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. It orders the agency to notify potential class members of the accepted claim, appoint a judge to hear the class claim, and submit a report of compliance with the decision to the Commission.  Compliance with these orders within 30 days is mandatory.

About Sanford Wittels & Heisler LLP

Sanford Wittels & Heisler is a boutique class action law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases including employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam, consumer and complex corporate class action litigation.  SWH has represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States, and also represents individual clients in employment, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. In May 2010, the firm secured the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination class action in an employment case when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.