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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Northwest Territorial Mint, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

January 31, 2017

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHWEST TERRITORIAL MINT, LLC, Defendant.

          ROBERTA L. STEELE Regional Attorney JOHN F. STANLEY Supervisory Trial Attorney MAY R. CHE Senior Trial Attorney DAMIEN A. LEE Senior Trial Attorney Attorneys for Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

          Benjamin J. Stone Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP Attorneys for Defendant Northwest Territorial Mint, LL

          Mark Calvert Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Trustee for Northwest Territorial Mint, LLC

          Michael J. Gearin David C. Neu Brian T. Petersen K&L Gates, LLP Attorneys for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Trustee for Northwest Territorial Mint, LLC

          CONSENT DECREE AND ORDER APPROVING

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         1. This action originated when Patricia Hoffman (“Hoffman”) filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC” or “Commission"). Hoffman alleged that Defendant Northwest Territorial Mint, LLC (“Defendant” or “NWTM”) through the actions of its owner and president Ross Hansen, discriminated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., by subjecting her and a class of similarly aggrieved female employees to a hostile and abusive work environment based on their sex (Female), resulting in conditions so intolerable that Ms. Hoffman was constructively discharged from her position.

         2. On July 3, 2015, the EEOC issued a Letter of Determination with a finding of reasonable cause to believe that Defendant violated Title VII regarding Hoffman and a class of similarly aggrieved female employees. Thereafter, EEOC attempted to conciliate the charge and conciliation was unsuccessful.

         3. The Commission filed its Complaint on September 30, 2015, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. The Complaint alleges that Defendant subjected Hoffman and a class of similarly aggrieved female employees (also referred to as “EEOC Class” and “EEOC Class Member”) to a hostile work environment based on their sex, female, and constructively discharged Hoffman. The EEOC's class consisted of two other similarly aggrieved females as of September 30, 2015, which the EEOC expected would increase with additional discovery. The EEOC presently seeks relief for Hoffman and four other similarly aggrieved females.

         4. The parties want to conclude fully and finally all claims arising out of the EEOC's Complaint and Ms. Hoffman's charge of discrimination filed with EEOC. The EEOC and Defendant enter into this Consent Decree to further the objectives of equal employment opportunity as set forth in Title VII.

         5. On April 1, 2016, NWTM filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Washington (the “Bankruptcy Case”) (Case No. 16-11767-CMA). Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(4), this action was not subject to the automatic stay. See 11 U.S.C. § 362; EEOC v. McLean Trucking Co., 834 F.2d 398 (4th Cir. 1987). On April 11, 2016, the Court appointed Mark Calvert as the Chapter 11 Trustee pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1104.

         6. Upon execution of this Consent Decree, the parties shall file a motion in the Bankruptcy Court pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 105 and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9019, requesting an order approving the resolution of this lawsuit, including the allowance of the full amount of the monetary relief provided to the EEOC's Class Members be allowed as a general unsecured claim. The Bankruptcy Court's order, if issued, shall not become effective unless this Court grants final approval of the Consent Decree. The EEOC will then file an amended proof of claim against the Bankruptcy Estate after issuance of the Bankruptcy Court's order and this Court's final approval of the Consent Decree.

         II. SETTLEMENT SCOPE

         7. This Consent Decree is the final and complete resolution of all allegations of unlawful employment practices contained in Hoffman's discrimination charge, in the EEOC's administrative determination, and in the EEOC's Complaint filed herein under Title VII on behalf of Hoffman and EEOC Class Members Lauren Bailie, Judy Elder, Stephanie Seretis, and Angela Boddy, including all claims by the EEOC and Defendant for attorney fees and costs.

         III. MONETARY RELIEF

         8. In settlement of this lawsuit, Hoffman and other EEOC Class Members shall have an allowed general unsecured claim (the “Allowed General Unsecured Claim”) in the total amount of $725, 000.00 in re Northwest Territorial Mint, L.L.C., Case No. 16-11767-CMA (Bankr. W.D. Wa.), in specific amounts allocated by the EEOC below.

a. A claim in the amount of one-thousand-seven-hundred-and-seventy-six dollars ($1, 776) as back pay from June 11, 2014 when she was constructively discharged to July 1, 2014 when she found alternative work, payable to Hoffman. Defendant will issue Hoffman an IRS Form W-2 for the back pay described in this subpart (a).
b. A separate claim in the amount of one-hundred-forty-four-thousand, six-hundred-and-forty-four-dollars-and eighty-cents ($ 144, 644.80) as compensatory damages payable to Hoffman. Defendant will issue Hoffman an IRS Form 1099 for the payment described in this subpart (b).
c. A separate claim in the amount of one-hundred-forty-four-thousand, six-hundred-and-forty-four-dollars-and eighty-cents ($ 144, 644.80) as compensatory damages payable to EEOC Class Member Lauren Bailie (“Bailie”). Defendant will issue Bailie an IRS Form 1099 for the payment described in this subpart (c).
d. A separate claim in the amount of one-hundred-forty-four-thousand, six-hundred-and-forty-four-dollars-and eighty-cents ($ 144, 644.80) as compensatory damages payable to EEOC Class Member Judy Elder (“Elder”). Defendant will issue Elder ...

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