For more than three decades, our attorneys have pursued complex class action cases with significant social impact. We have enforced wage and hour laws, opposed employment and housing discrimination, fought consumer fraud, and helped ban the continued use of error prone punch-card ballots in Illinois.
In Chicago, HSPRD represented more than 6,000 African-American clients who the Chicago Fire Department denied employment based on race. The United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in favor of our clients, which ultimately resulted in 111 class members being hired as Chicago firefighters. Our clients were also awarded $78.5 million in back pay and pension contributions.
HSPRD obtained a $2.8 million settlement in a class action lawsuit representing agricultural guest workers in Nevada at one of the nation’s largest onion-growing companies. Employers were illegally deducting the cost of travel and immigration-related expenses from workers’ wages, which ultimately reduced workers’ hourly rates to below federal minimum wage. HSPRD restored unlawfully withheld wages for thousands of guest workers after we prevailed on appeal.
HSPRD attorneys have successfully represented workers in a range of fields—including delivery drivers, restaurant workers, call-center employees, security guards, nursing home employees, construction workers, landscapers, retail workers, and farmworkers – in wage theft class actions. In many cases, class action lawsuits are the most effective way to recover unpaid wages, overtime, improper deductions, or unpaid vacation time.
At HSPRD, we pride ourselves on wholehearted dedication to our clients. Our deep ties to Chicago communities and nonprofit organizations allow us to work collaboratively with stakeholders, providing multi-faceted advocacy.
NOTABLE HSPRD CASES
Jimenez v. GLK Foods LLC. After six years of litigation, HSPRD obtained unpaid wages and damages for Mexican guest worker visa-holders who did not receive pay promised by GLK Foods, the world’s largest sauerkraut producer. The workers incurred great expense traveling to Wisconsin with the promise of a full season of work, but they were sent home early resulting in significant lost wages.
Ramirez-Cruz v. United States. HSPRD led a team of attorneys from five cities seeking to recover unpaid wages for Mexican contract laborers (braceros) who worked in the U.S. during World War II from 1942 to 1946. A historic settlement not only provided compensation to our clients but was also the catalyst for reparations programs that made additional compensation available to thousands of laborers who worked in the program from 1947 to 1962. The presiding federal judge commended HSPRD for our persistence. “I want to tell you,” the judge said, “I’ve never seen such litigation in 11 years on the bench that was more difficult than this one. It was enormously challenging. . . . I actually expected, to tell you the truth, at some point, that the plaintiffs would just give up because it was so hard, but they never did. . . . They achieved a settlement of the case, which I find remarkable under all of these circumstances.”
Rivera Rivera v. Peri & Sons Farms, Inc. HSPRD represented H-2A guest workers in a class and collective action against a Nevada onion farm for unpaid wages. The case proceeded to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to reimburse agricultural guest workers for their travel, immigration, and recruitment expenses during their first work week, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari. After securing these decisions, HSPRD obtained a successful settlement of $2.8 million.
Hispanics United v. Village of Addison. HSPRD obtained one of the largest Fair Housing Act settlements in U.S. history. The class action lawsuit was brought on behalf of residents of two predominantly Mexican communities in Addison, Ill., after the village planned to demolish the communities under the guise of “urban renewal.” The settlement effectively changed the use of tax increment financing (TIF) projects and resulted in millions of dollars in compensation and community development benefits.
Lewis v. City of Chicago. HSPRD represented more than 6,000 African-Americans who the Chicago Fire Department denied employment based on race. A trial court ruled the city’s method of hiring bore no demonstrable relationship to candidates’ skills or abilities: White candidates were more than five times more likely to be hired than their African-American counterparts. The practice was, as the trial court called it, “a manifest violation of Title VII,” the nation’s core federal guarantee of equal employment opportunity. HSPRD prevailed not only at trial but also in a federal court of appeals and before the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a unanimous opinion in favor of our clients. In all, 111 class members were hired as Chicago firefighters. Our clients received $78.5 million in back pay and pension contributions.
Jones v. Walgreen Co. HSPRD obtained a $17 million settlement on behalf of a nationwide class of female Walgreens management employees. An injunction required Walgreens to establish objective criteria for pay and promotions and to comply with an outside review of gender equity efforts.
Bell v. Woodward Governor Co. Woodward Governor Co. of Rockford, Ill., agreed to pay $5 million to minority employees who alleged the manufacturing company discriminated based on race and national origin. The class action settlement required Woodward Governor to create and implement non-discriminatory, job-related best practices for pay and promotions.
FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT
Joshaway v. First Student and Hunter v. First Transit. Our team challenged two subsidiaries of the largest public transportation provider in the United States in two class action lawsuits after the company used background checks on employees and applicants in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). HSPRD procured a $5.9 million settlement in the case. It was one of the largest FCRA settlements resolving employment-related claims in U.S. history.
del Valle v. McGuffage. HSPRD represented Latino and African-American voters in Illinois in a class action lawsuit against seven local election jurisdictions and the Illinois State Board of Election Commissioners. Flawed systems of recording and counting votes had consistently led to high error rates and undercounted votes in predominantly minority districts. The state eliminated punch-card ballots and optical-scan voting systems as a result of our lawsuit.
People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education. In the largest school desegregation case since Brown vs. Board of Education, HSPRD obtained a remedial order that effectively integrated African-American and Latino students into Rockford, Ill., schools. Rockford, home to the second largest public school district in Illinois, was required to dedicate tens of millions of dollars to new school construction in minority neighborhoods. The case resulted in the most extensive set of discriminatory findings in the history of desegregation legislation.
In re Mexico Money Transfer Litigation. HSPRD brought consolidated claims against the three largest money transfer companies in the U.S. All three concealed the spread between customers’ currency conversion rates and actual transaction costs, which were much lower. Settlement terms both mandated transparency and facilitated price competition in the money transfer industry. The settlement provided more than $400 million worth of benefits to Mexican migrant workers — plus an additional $4.5 million in grants to NGOs across the United States to serve the needs of Mexican migrant communities.