On February 23, 2023, Illinois U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. granted class certification to a group of nearly 13,500 African American workers in a decade-old bias lawsuit challenging racially discriminatory hiring practices at Vee Pak and three staffing agencies (Staffing Network, Personnel Staffing Group LLC, and Alternative Staffing Inc.). The suit alleges that Vee Pak, a beauty supply distributor, refused to permit African Americans to work for the company due to their race, preferring Latinos for the jobs. In the Court’s ruling granting class certification, Judge Tharp noted that several staffing agency employees testified that Vee Pak instructed them to implement a racially discriminatory hiring policy when filling temporary positions at the Vee Pak warehouse.
The class is represented by Joseph M. Sellers and Harini Srinivasan of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, by Christopher J. Williams of the National Legal Advocacy Network, and by Christopher J. Wilmes and Caryn C. Lederer of HSPRD.
Judge Tharp denied the defendants’ motion to strike the testimony of Plaintiffs’ labor economist expert regarding the statistical differences between the racial makeup of the applicable labor market and the racial makeup of the workers at Vee Pak. The court found that the defendants’ objections to the expert’s report implicated its probative value, rather than its admissibility. Judge Tharp also rejected arguments from Vee Pak and Staffing Network that litigating the decade-old claims would require too many individualized inquiries, ruling Tuesday that not every member of the proposed class needs to prove harm before it can be certified.
Joe Eagle et al. v. Vee Pak Inc. et al., case number 1:12-cv-09672, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.