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DOMINGO v. NEW ENGLAND FISH CO.

November 21, 1977

Nemesio Domingo, Silme Domingo, Joe Ancheta, Sam Cabansag, Tom Carpenter, Plaintiffs, and Nellie Kookesh, Audrey A. Merculief, Frank Paul, Mary Paul, Tony Evon, Sr., Samuel Strauss, Plaintiffs-Intervenors
v.
New England Fish Company, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SOLOMON

 This class action challenges many employment practices of New England Fish Company (Nefco) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. V), and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (1970 ed.).

 Plaintiffs are present and former employees of Nefco. They allege that their employer discriminates on the basis of race in jobs, housing, and messing at its Alaska salmon canneries. They seek injunctive relief, back pay for themselves and their class, and also an affirmative program to eradicate the effects of past discrimination.

 I. Introduction

 The charges of discrimination in this action were first asserted in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on November 26, 1971.

 Nemesio Domingo is a Filipino. He was employed at Nefco's Uganik cannery in Alaska during the 1969, 1970, and 1971 canning seasons. On several occasions, Domingo objected to unequal treatment of Filipinos and other minority employees. After the 1971 season, Nefco terminated Domingo.

 On November 26, 1971, Domingo filed a complaint with the EEOC in which he charged that he was terminated because he was a Filipino and because he had objected to disparate treatment of minority employees. The EEOC deferred his complaint to the Washington State Human Rights Commission pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(c). The state commission, because of a heavy backlog, was unable to process the complaint, and the EEOC assumed jurisdiction on December 20, 1971.

 The EEOC investigated Domingo's charges and found "reasonable cause" to believe that Nefco engaged in discriminatory practices. In December 1974, the EEOC and Nefco reached a conciliation agreement. *fn1" Domingo was not a party to this agreement. He had already received notice of his right to sue, and he had filed this action on November 29, 1973.

 II. The Company

 A. Company Organization

 Nefco operated five salmon canneries and a fleet of tenders in Alaska. The canneries are located at Uganik Bay, Egegik, Chatham, Pederson Point, and Waterfall.

 Salmon canning is a seasonal industry. The fishing season in Alaska usually lasts about one month each year, and the fish must be processed shortly after they are caught. A cannery does not operate every year; operations depend on where the fish are running and in what quantities. In a year when a cannery does not operate, it is often staffed with a skeleton crew and used as a camp for fishermen. *fn2"

 Although Nefco's canneries vary in size and in the years they operate, they have the same management structure, job departments, and labor pool. They use the same machinery and processes. All are located in remote areas. Practically all of the employees are migrant workers, and Nefco provides them with housing and eating facilities.

 All canning operations are controlled by Nefco's home office in Seattle. A vice president was responsible for all of Nefco's fishing and fish processing operations in Alaska during the years covered by this litigation. A superintendent was in charge of each cannery and reported to the vice president. Because of the remote locations of the canneries, each had some independence in manufacturing, purchasing, and hiring. But, the Seattle office set hiring policies, approved operating budgets, determined some wages, and hired some employees.

 B. Job Departments

 There are a number of job categories or departments at each cannery. Each department is responsible for a phase of the canning operations. *fn3"

 The administrative department is small. It consists of the superintendent of each cannery who is responsible for the cannery operations. At two of the five canneries, there was also an assistant superintendent.

 The clerical department consists of the office workers who handle the cannery's paper work. They include the office manager, storekeeper, and office workers.

 The tender department consists of the crews which operate Nefco's fleet of fishing vessels. They spend much of their time at sea. They regularly dock at the cannery to unload fish. At the beginning of each season, the tenders transport supplies and some employees from Seattle to the canneries.

 The beach gang unloads fish from the tenders and performs construction and maintenance work at the cannery. This crew is one of the first to arrive at the cannery each season, and it prepares the cannery for the season's work.

 The machinists are responsible for operating and maintaining the machines used in the canning process. At the beginning of each season, they tear down, service, and reassemble the machines.

 The cannery department consists of the workers who clean, can, cook, and store the fish.

 The culinary department prepares and serves meals at the cannery mess halls. They include ...


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