Shook Partner Frank Cruz-Alvarez and Associate Britta Stamps have authored an article for the Washington Legal Foundation’s Legal Opinion Letter on the Eighth Circuit’s ruling in Harris v. Union Pacific Railroad Company. In the decision, the court denied class certification because an employer provided individualized review under a policy to each of its employees in the purported class. “[T]he Eighth Circuit concluded that to determine whether the policy is unlawfully discriminatory, the district court would have to consider the unique circumstances of each position at issue,” Cruz-Alvarez and Stamps explain.
“While the class definition used by plaintiffs may be out of the control of companies facing similar class actions, companies can revisit their policies to assess whether the policies are applied on a case-by-case basis with adequate individual attention given to each employee, client, or customer,” the authors conclude. “The ramifications of this opinion span beyond ADA and employment issues. The Eighth Circuit sent a clear message that any company-wide policies that are applied evenly, with no questions asked about particular circumstances, risk the certification of a class action given the absence of any individualized inquiries for a district court to make during a class trial."