Fighting for Women's Equality

Historic Class Settlement Approved in Sex Discrimination Suit against BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair

February 10, 2016 | by

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Contact:
Sarah Christiano, Equal Rights Advocates
schristiano@equalrights.org, 415-621-0672 x 380

 

Historic Class Settlement Approved in Sex Discrimination
Suit against BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair

Class of Women Shipyard Workers to Receive
Monetary Relief and Significant Workplace Changes

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA – The settlement of a class action sex discrimination suit against federal contractor BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair has been granted final approval by the Honorable Arenda L. Wright Allen, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, after a final approval hearing that took place on Wednesday, February 10th. This marks the first Title VII class action to be certified or settled in the Norfolk or Newport News Divisions of the Eastern District since the Civil Rights Act became law in 1964.

Under the settlement agreement, BAE Systems will pay a total of more than $4.6 million, providing significant monetary relief to the class of women shipyard workers, and will make changes to its internal policies and practices regarding promotion and the handling of sexual harassment complaints.

The suit was brought in July 2013 on behalf of women employed in non-management positions at BAE Systems’ Norfolk shipyard, who alleged widespread sexual harassment and systematic gender discrimination in promotion by supervisors and managers, nearly all of whom are men, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The plaintiffs are represented by Equal Rights Advocates, a national gender equity advocacy organization, and Joshua Friedman, Rebecca Houlding, and Giselle Schuetz of the New York-based law firm Friedman & Houlding, LLP.

“This settlement is an important step forward for all women at BAE Systems,” said Equal Rights Advocates’ Legal Director Jennifer Reisch. “Women who work in traditionally male-dominated fields too often face obstacles to success. The changes that BAE has agreed to make will help to ensure that all current and future women employees are treated fairly and can work safely, free from harassment.”

The settlement agreement provides significant monetary relief for women who worked in bargaining unit positions between October 5, 2007 and December 31, 2014. The $3 million class settlement fund will be distributed to 166 women who will each receive between $5,000 and $33,000. BAE Systems has also agreed to pay an additional $480,000 in service awards to the four named plaintiffs and $1.115 million in attorney fees and costs.

“The policy changes and monetary relief secured today would not have been possible without the courage and tenacity of the plaintiffs,” said Joshua Friedman. “BAE Systems has agreed to make significant changes to eliminate discrimination and harassment from its workplace. As we work to ensure they fulfill this promise, it will be important for all women working at the shipyard to know their rights and speak out if they see or experience discrimination and harassment.”

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Equal Rights Advocates is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls.

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