Lucas v. Ferrara Candy Company

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What is the Action about?

This lawsuit was filed by Brian Lucas, Aronzo Davis, Torrence Vaughans and Maurice Milton (“Plaintiffs”) on behalf of themselves and other people who sought work assignments to Ferrara Candy Company, either directly or through two staffing agencies known as Labor Power and REM (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiffs allege that Defendants discriminated against African Americans seeking work assignments to Ferrara by limiting or completely excluding African-American laborers from being assigned to Ferrara by Labor Power or REM or hired by Ferrara for the positions of Machine Operator, Mogul Cook, Engrosser, Janitor, Quality Control Technician or Shipping Clerk, and those African-Americans who listed “open” on their applications to Ferrara and by doing so were seeking a position of Machine Operator, Mogul Cook, Engrosser, Janitor, Quality Control Technician or Shipping Clerk. Plaintiffs contend that as a result of the Defendants’ discriminatory policy or practice of steering African-Americans away from available positions at Ferrara, that the workforce of laborers assigned by REM and Labor Power to Ferrara was overwhelmingly Latino. Plaintiffs sought to recover the lost wages that they could have received, if they had been assigned to or hired by Ferrara, as well as their attorney’s fees and costs and other relief. Defendants have denied all allegations of wrongdoing, and no Court has held that Defendants’ violated the law. The Plaintiffs and Defendants have reached a Settlement regarding the litigation.

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2. Who is Part of the Proposed Settlement?

The Court has preliminarily certified a settlement class, consisting of all Ferrara Direct Applicant Class Members and all African Americans who sought a work assignment through REM or through Labor Power and were otherwise eligible to work at Ferrara but on one or more occasions, were not assigned or hired to work at Ferrara in such capacity during the period of February 27, 2009 through December 22, 2015.

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3. What is the “Settlement” and how was it agreed upon?

Plaintiffs and Defendants agreed to a Settlement, in which Defendants have agreed to compensate Plaintiffs and other similarly situated people for the allegations in Plaintiffs’ complaint. Defendants have denied all wrongdoing, and no court has held that Defendants violated the law. The Court has granted preliminary approval of the settlement, and the Plaintiffs and Defendants (collectively, “the Parties”) are now seeking final Court approval, which is required for the settlement to become effective. The settlement includes a procedure for eligible persons to receive their share of the Settlement Fund. There has been no determination by a court, administrative agency, or other tribunal as to the truth or validity of Plaintiffs’ allegations against Defendants in this Lawsuit.

Substantial amounts of time, energy, and other resources have been devoted by the Parties in prosecuting and in defending the Lawsuit. Unless there is a settlement, that Lawsuit will continue. In settlement negotiations, the Parties have taken into account the uncertainty of the outcome and the risk of further litigation. In light of these factors, the Parties believe that the settlement is the best way to resolve the Lawsuit while minimizing further expenditures.

The Parties and their attorneys believe that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and in the best interests of all Parties, including the Settlement Class.

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4. What are the terms of the Settlement?

Defendants have agreed to pay a Settlement Amount of up to one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000.00) to resolve all claims in this Lawsuit as described in the Stipulation of Settlement. Each class member shall be allocated a proportionate share of the Settlement Amount (not to exceed $7,500.00 per class member) after the Settlement Amount has been reduced by:

(1) $5,000.00 to each Plaintiff for executing full releases of all claims as to Defendants, and $1,500 for Service Payments to each Plaintiff for helping to litigate and settle this Lawsuit;

(2) no more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the Settlement Amount, as approved of and ordered by the Court, as payment for court approved attorneys’ fees and reasonable costs, and

(3) the costs of administering the settlement up through final approval of the settlement.

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5. What am I entitled to recover under the Settlement?

If the settlement is approved by the Court, every Settlement Class Member, including Plaintiffs, who timely submits a valid claim form will receive a settlement payment. Settlement payments will be reduced on a pro rata basis in the event the sum of settlement payment exceeds the size of the Class Settlement Fund.

The Parties agree that 50% of each Claimant’s Settlement Payment will be considered wages and will be reported as such on an IRS Form W-2 and that the remaining 50% of each Claimant’s Settlement Payment will be considered compensatory damages and will be reported as such on an IRS Form 1099 where mandated by the Internal Revenue Service. Appropriate withholding of federal, state, and local income taxes, and the Claimants’ share of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes shall be deducted from the respective Settlement Payments and reported in the above referenced Form W-2. Other than the withholding and reporting requirements herein, Claimants shall be solely responsible for the reporting and payment of their share of any federal, state, and/or local income or other taxes on payments received pursuant to this settlement.

To be eligible to receive a settlement payment, you must have submitted a valid Claim Form to the Settlement Administrator by mail no later than May 3, 2016.

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6. How do I receive a Settlement Award?

To receive a part of the Class Settlement Fund, you must have completed and signed the Claim Form without alteration or amendment and returned it to the Settlement Administrator on or before May 3, 2016. If you did not timely complete and return a signed and completed Claim Form, you will not receive a monetary Settlement Payment.

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7. What Practices will Defendants Implement to help prevent any future alleged violations?

Defendants have agreed to work with or continue to work with one or more community-based organizations in the Chicago Metropolitan area that specialize in providing job assistance to minorities in order to recruit diverse applicants . These groups include, but are not limited to, the Westside Health Authority. Additionally, Defendants each have agreed to undergo diversity training for hiring staffs and human resources personnel within 12 months days of the Effective Date of this settlement. Defendants agree that such training shall include equal employment opportunity and compliance with various federal and state civil rights laws, to include the following topics: (1) equal employment opportunity (2) federal, state and local prohibitions of unlawful discrimination and retaliation (3) diversity issues and (4) other topics that will encourage equal employment in recruiting, hiring, assigning, promoting and retaining minorities.

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8. Am I required to participate in the settlement?

No, you may do nothing and you will remain a member of the class and bound by the settlement but you will not receive a check.

You also have the right to exclude yourself from the Lawsuit and “opt-out” of the settlement if you comply with the opt-out procedure stated below. If you exclude yourself, you will not receive money from this settlement.

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9. What is the Final Approval Hearing and do I need to attend?

The purpose of the Final Approval Hearing in this case is to determine whether the proposed settlement of the Lawsuit is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and whether the proposed settlement should be finally approved by the Court and the Lawsuit dismissed. Any Class Member who is satisfied with the proposed settlement does not have to appear at the Final Approval Hearing.

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10. How can I opt-out of the Settlement?

The deadline to exclude yourself from the Settlement was May 3, 2016. If you did not exclude yourself by the deadline, you are a Settlement Class Member and are bound by the terms of the Settlement.

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11. How can I object to the Settlement?

The deadline to object to the Settlement passed on May 3, 2016.

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12. When is the Court hearing to determine if the Settlement is fair?

The Final Approval Hearing was continued and will be held before the Honorable John Z. Lee on November 3, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 1225 of the United States District Courthouse located at 219 South Dearborn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604. The Final Approval Hearing may be adjourned from time to time as the Court may direct, without further notification.

If you are a member of the Settlement Class, you will be bound by the proposed Settlement if it is approved, unless you opt-out by making a timely Request for Exclusion as described above.

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13. What rights am I giving up if I participate in the Settlement?

Persons who do not opt out of the Settlement will release and discharge, on behalf of themselves and their heirs, legatees, personal representatives and assigns, Ferrara Candy Company, Remedial Environmental Manpower, Inc., Labor Power, Inc., and all of their former and current parent companies, owners, directors, officers, agents, employees, attorneys, predecessors, successors, assigns, subsidiaries, shareholders, insurers, benefit plans, and affiliated entities for all claims that were raised or could have been raised in Plaintiffs’ Complaint for race discrimination under Section 1981 and Title VII, including failure to hire by all Defendants and failure to assign to Ferrara by Remedial Environmental Manpower and Labor Power.

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14. How are the lawyers for the Settlement Class Paid?

Subject to Court approval, Class Counsel will receive no more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the Settlement Amount, as approved by the Court, for all past and future attorneys’ fees and reasonable costs incurred or that will be incurred in this Lawsuit through final approval of the settlement as set forth in the Stipulation of Settlement.

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15. What if the Court does not approve the Settlement?

If the Court does not approve the settlement, the case will proceed as if no settlement had been attempted, and there can be no assurance that the class will recover more than is provided for in the settlement agreement, or indeed, anything.

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16. Can I review a copy of the Settlement Agreement or other papers that were filed with the Court?

Yes, for a detailed statement of the matters involved in the Lawsuit and the proposed settlement, you may review the pleadings and other papers filed in the Lawsuit, which may be inspected at the Office of the Clerk of the United States District Court, 219 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, Illinois, 60604, during regular business hours of each court day. In addition, you may also contact Class Counsel to review copies of the settlement papers filed with the Court.

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17. How do I contact Class Counsel?

The following two firms were appointed by the Court to represent the Class (called “Class Counsel”):

Workers’ Law Office, PC
Christopher J. Williams
Alvar Ayala
53 W. Jackson Blvd, Suite 701
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 795-9120
Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, P.L.L.C.
Joseph M. Sellers
Shaylyn Cochran
1100 New York Avenue, N.W.
East Tower - Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20005
(202) 408-4600

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