LITTLE v. METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia,
Case No. 1:14-cv-01289-RMC

This website pertains to the proposed settlement known as Erick Little, et al. v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. This website provides information regarding the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, and what benefits are available.

Status Update:  On April 27, 2018, the U.S. District Court granted final approval of this settlement.  The deadline for appeals has now ended and a funding date has been set.  We are happy to report that we expect to mail checks to Qualified Class Members on approximately February 12th, 2019. 

If your address has changed since you filed your Claim Form, it is important that you contact the Claims Administrator at Settlement Services, Inc., P.O. Box 10643, Tallahassee FL, 32302-2643. Please make sure to include your signature and the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number with your address change. If you do not update your contact information, you may not promptly receive your payment.

THE DESCRIPTION OF THE LITIGATION

On December 22, 2011, WMATA adopted a criminal background screening policy called Policy/Instruction 7.2.3 (and later 7.2.3/1), which had screening standards referred to as Appendix A and Appendix C. On January 1, 2013, WMATA added a separate screening standard referred to as Appendix F.

The Lawsuit claims that WMATA’s criminal background screening policy (the “Background Screening Policy”) violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it allegedly adversely and disproportionately impacted African Americans who applied for employment with WMATA or WMATA contractors or were suspended or terminated by WMATA or a WMATA contractor as a result of the application of the Background Screening Policy.

On March 31, 2017, the Court certified three separate classes of persons under Rule 23(b)(2) who have been denied employment with WMATA or a third party contractor or subcontractor of WMATA, or terminated or otherwise permanently separated from their positions, suspended with or without pay, and/or denied employment with WMATA or any third party contractor or subcontractor of WMATA as a result of Appendix A, Appendix C, or Appendix F of the Background Screening Policy (the Appendix A Class, the Appendix C Class, and the Appendix F Class, respectively). The Court did not certify a class of individuals who failed Appendix B. On July 1, 2017, WMATA adopted a revised criminal background check policy called Policy 7.2.3/2.

WMATA has denied Plaintiffs’ claims and vigorously defended against Plaintiffs’ allegations. The WMATA Parties maintain that the Background Screening Policy was adopted for non-discriminatory reasons, does not have a disproportionate adverse impact on African Americans, is not discriminatory in its application, and that the lack of disproportionate adverse impact is demonstrated by the high percentage (approximately 75 percent) of African Americans in WMATA’s workforce. WMATA notes that there is no evidence that the Background Screening Policy was adopted for the purpose of excluding African Americans or for any other discriminatory reason. Further, WMATA maintains that the Background Screening Policy is job related and a business necessity to: (a) protect the safety of employees, the public, and transit system users, and (b) ensure public trust in WMATA’s transit system. WMATA’s sole purpose for entering into this Settlement Agreement is to avoid the burden and expense of further litigation.

This Notice does not imply that there has been any finding of any violation of the law by the WMATA Parties or that there could be any recovery in this case. Although the Court has authorized Notice to be given of the proposed Settlement Agreement, this Notice does not express the opinion of the Court on the merits of the claims or defenses asserted by either side in the Lawsuit. In fact, the Court has not ruled on the merits of any of the claims in this Lawsuit, and there are bona fide issues in dispute regarding liability, damages, and relief.

The proposed Settlement Agreement will provide for a settlement fund of $6,500,000 (the “Class Settlement Fund”). The Class Settlement Fund will pay for approved attorneys’ fees and costs of $1.625 million, class representative and service payment awards of $62,500, costs and expenses associated with the administration of claims by a court-approved Claims Administrator (estimated to be $28,500), and payments to eligible class members. The payments to class members will settle claims that WMATA’s Background Screening Policy violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because, even though it was a neutral policy and adopted for non-discriminatory reasons, it allegedly adversely and disproportionately impacted African Americans who allegedly were denied, terminated, or otherwise permanently separated from their positions, suspended with or without pay, and/or denied employment with WMATA or a third party WMATA contractor or subcontractor, as a result of the application of WMATA’s Background Screening Policy.

Your legal rights are affected whether you act, or don’t act. Read this notice carefully.