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Consent Decree Repository Launched

Collection of employment discrimination settlement agreements will aid in litigation, research and development of HR best practices

Attorneys, social scientists and human resource practitioners are expected to be among the first users of the Cornell ILR Consent Decree Repository, which can be found at http://cdr.cornell.edu.

It is being launched today by ILR's Labor and Employment Law Program, which developed the searchable data base in conjunction with DigitalCommons@ILR and the ILR Web team.

"ILR's Labor and Employment Law Program uniquely operates at the intersection of social science research and the practice of law," said Harry Katz, ILR's Kenneth F. Kahn Dean and Jack Sheinkman Professor.

"Created out of our unique understanding of both these fields, the Consent Decree Repository will be a breakthrough resource for both litigation-focused academic researchers and active practitioners in the field of law," Katz said.

Free and open to the public, the 91-criteria searchable database includes consent decrees negotiated in Title VII race and sex discrimination class action lawsuits.

"The repository, a practical tool for people in a myriad of professions, makes accessible details about some of the most important Title VII class action settlements against major companies in the United States," explained Esta R. Bigler ILR '70, director of ILR's Labor and Employment Law Program.

While the repository is being formally launched today, attorneys have already found the website. In February, there were more than 1,400 downloads of entire decrees.

Brad Seligman, founder and senior counsel of The Impact Fund, and of counsel, Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C., said that the repository is, "an incredible resource for class action lawyers, social scientists and enforcement agencies."

Seligman, who represents employees in Title VII cases, added, "Prior to the launch of the repository, access to decrees was fragmentary and catch-as-catch-can. Now, in one site, past and best practices in decrees are instantly available."

Michael Delikat ILR '74, the global head of the Employment Litigation Group at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, represents employers in class action litigation and EEOC systemic investigations. He said, "This database is an invaluable resource for those involved in regulatory investigations and private litigation in the class action employment arena. This treasure trove of information is a unique collection of information otherwise not publicly available." Regulatory entities using the database would include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Former vice chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Leslie E. Silverman, now a partner at Proskauer Rose LLP and co-head of its Employment Law Counseling & Training Government Regulatory Compliance and Relations, said, "The repository is a tremendous resource during settlement negotiations."

"I have also turned to the repository when advising employers on changing or instituting new HR policies. It gives me instant access to how others have solved an employment issue, saving me valuable research time," Silverman said.

Pamela S. Tolbert, ILR's Lois S. Gray Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Social Sciences, consulted on the design of the database.

"The unique design of this dataset makes it a gold mine for scholars, and an important tool for examining the effectiveness of anti-discrimination remedies and determining best practices," she said

"The repository is a valuable source of data for the growing number of sociologists, economists and psychologists who are interested in understanding the impact of legal regulation on discrimination in organizations," said Tolbert, chair of ILR's Department of Organizational Behavior.

Adam Klein ILR '87, partner, Outten & Golden LLP, who represents employees in Title VII cases sees the repository as a multi-purpose tool.

It "opens up exciting research opportunities for social scientists and economists – with the eventual goal of developing better programmatic relief in Title VII class action settlements and consent decrees," he said.

"Now, with one centralized database, private attorneys, government agencies and academics all have a powerful tool set aimed at meeting our national mandate of eradicating discrimination within the U.S. workforce," Klein said.

An ILR webcast about the repository is slated for May. Details about the webcast and the repository are available by contacting Bigler at erb4@cornell.edu.