Leighann George graduated with Honors from the Cornell University ILR School in May 2013 with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations and with minors in Law and Society and International Relations. She currently works at Kaye Scholer LLP as a Litigation Project Assistant and will apply to law school in the fall of 2014.
Leighann would like to thank Esta Bigler for teaching her about this area of law in the summer of 2010. Leighann would like to thank Professor Alex Colvin as well as Esta Bigler for advising her academically when she was an undergraduate as she wrote her thesis, which is the basis for this article. Leighann would also like to thank Professor David Bruce Lipsky for his valuable assistance in helping her transform her research into this article.
Using a consent decree is one settlement method to end a lawsuit afforded to plaintiffs and defendants. Social scientists who research plaintiff representation and protected class generally do not use consent decrees as data. Through studying consent decrees we can see the effect of plaintiff representation and protected class on negotiated remedies. A consent decree is a distinct and frequently used method to end a lawsuit which is stronger than a settlement agreement. It is a public document containing a court injunction not to discriminate enforceable in federal court; however, it does not contain a finding in favor of either party. Consent decrees are available to Rule 23 certified classes of plaintiffs or plaintiffs represented by the EEOC.
Plaintiff representation is an important area of study because the law allows for variation in the types of plaintiff representation for Title VII cases. Plaintiff(s) can be represented by a private firm only, the EEOC and a private firm, the EEOC only, or the Attorney General can be involved. The EEOC and private firm representation category encompasses situations where either the EEOC or a private plaintiff law firm is a signatory to the consent decree or an intervener in the case. I call the last categorization Attorney General Involvement because in four consent decrees in my dataset the Attorney General’s office was a signatory or intervener in the case.