Stewart, et al., v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., et al.
Stewart v. Kaiser Permanente Settlement
CGC-21-590966

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • If you received a Notice, it is because you have been identified as a member of the Settlement Class. This is not a lawsuit against you, and you are not being sued. Defendants’ records indicate that at some time between January 1, 2015, and March 31, 2021, you worked in California for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, The Permanente Medical Group, Inc., and/or Southern California Permanente Medical Group (collectively “Defendants” or “Kaiser-related Entities”) in a job that is covered by a proposed class action settlement (“Settlement”).

  • On April 22, 2021, a class action lawsuit was filed against Defendants in the Superior Court of San Francisco County. The Lawsuit was filed by Shelby Stewart, Charleta Dabrowski, Benedict Johnson, and Kenya Mayfield (the “Named Plaintiffs”) on behalf of themselves and a proposed class of certain Black or African-American employees of the Kaiser-Related Entities.

    The Lawsuit, Stewart, et al. v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., et al., Case No. CGC-21-590966 makes claims for:

    1. unequal pay based on race;
    2. disparate treatment and pattern and practice discrimination based on race with respect to all forms of compensation (including but not limited to hourly pay, overtime, premium pay, salary, bonus, and salary grades), raises, job assignments, job code placement, demotions, and denial of promotions; and
    3. disparate impact discrimination based on race with respect to all forms of compensation (including but not limited to hourly pay, overtime, premium pay, salary, bonus, and salary grades), raises, job assignments, job code placement, demotions, and denial of promotions.

    The Lawsuit alleges that these practices violated the following laws:

    • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title VII”) and Executive Order 11246
    • 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (“Section 1981”)
    • California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code § 12940 et seq. (“FEHA”)
    • California Equal Pay Act, as amended, Cal. Labor Code § 1197.5 (“California EPA”)
    • California Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code section 17200, et seq. (“UCL”)
    • California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, Cal. Lab. Code section 2698, et seq. (“PAGA”)
  • The Parties have reached this Settlement in order to avoid the expense, risk, and uncertainty of further litigation. The Settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and is not an admission of liability on the part of the Kaiser-Related Entities or anyone else. The Kaiser-Related Entities deny all of the allegations in the Lawsuit and maintain that they have fully complied with all applicable laws, rules and regulations at all times. The Court has not ruled on the merits of these claims, has made no findings of fault, and has not awarded damages.

    The Court has granted preliminary approval of the Settlement. Payments will be made only if the Court grants final approval of the Settlement and any appeals are resolved.

  • The Lawsuit is on behalf of the following “Class,” which the Court has provisionally certified: All Black employees who meet the following parameters at any time between January 1, 2015 and March 31, 2021, inclusive: (a) The following California Regions: Northern California (NCAL); Southern California (SCAL); California locations of the Program Offices Region; and California locations of the KP-IT Region; (b) The following California Entities: KFHP, KFH, TPMG and SCPMG; (c) Exempt and non-exempt Employees; (d) Full-time, non-union, Director-Level and below, and non-clinical jobs only; (e) The following two job families: Administrative Support and Consulting Services. The Class does not include individuals in Intern or Student Temporary jobs.

    If you received the Notice, Defendant's records indicate that you are a Settlement Class Member and are therefore affected by this Settlement.

  • The proposed Settlement includes money and business practice changes to resolve pay and promotion race discrimination claims for the Class. The monetary fund is Eleven Million Five Hundred Four Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty-Nine Dollars ($11,504,759) to be allocated as: approximately $45,000 in costs of independent settlement administration; $86,286 in recovery of penalties to the State of California; up to thirty percent (or $3,451,427.70) in attorneys’ fees to Class Counsel, Medina Orthwein LLP and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP; up to $65,000 in reimbursement of costs incurred to litigate this case; service awards totaling $255,000 to the Plaintiffs (representing $75,000 for originating Plaintiff Stewart and $60,000 for Plaintiffs Dabrowski, Johnson, and Mayfield, in recognition of the time, effort, and risks these individual Plaintiffs took to come forward and prosecute the case); a $50,000 contingency fund, to resolve Class payment issues (if any) which arise after the monetary fund is paid out; and $7,552,045.60 for Individual Settlement Awards. The Court will determine the propriety of all payments allocated from the Settlement at final settlement approval. No money will revert to Defendants

    The business practices are summarized in Section 4 of the Notice of Settlement, and a comprehensive list can be found in Exhibit B to the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement also states the complete terms of the proposed Class Settlement.

  • California’s Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”) allows private citizens to step into the state’s shoes and recover civil penalties for violations of California’s Labor Code. Seventy-five percent (75%) of any such PAGA recovery must be given to the state. In the present case, the Settlement provides that $86,285.70 be paid to the state as its share of the alleged penalties recovered in this case. If the Court awards less than this amount, the difference will be placed in the Settlement Awards Fund, which may then be distributed to Settlement Class Members or to a cy pres beneficiary, the non-profit organization Equal Justice Society.

  • Under the terms of the proposed Class Settlement, all Settlement Class Members will automatically receive an Individual Settlement Award if they do not opt out of the Class Settlement. If you do nothing, your award will be calculated automatically under the formula described in the Notice. You do not have to appear in court. You will also release your covered claims against the Kaiser-Related Entities and the Released Parties, unless you request to be excluded from the Settlement. If you are a current employee or become reemployed, you will receive the benefits of the business practices described in the Class Settlement.

    In addition, Settlement Class Members were able to submit Enhancement Claim Forms to seek additional (enhanced) money under the Settlement.

  • Individual Settlement Awards will be allocated to each Settlement Class Member based on an objective formula approved by the Court. This formula calculates each Settlement Class Member’s share of the Settlement Award Fund based on: the Settlement Class Member’s weeks worked in a job covered by the Settlement during the 325-week Class Period (i.e., January 1, 2015 through March 31, 2021), the Settlement Class Member’s annual base salary rate for each of those weeks worked, whether the Settlement Class Member was classified as exempt or non-exempt during those weeks, and whether the Settlement Class Member submits the Enhancement Claim Form, seeking an enhanced award based on alleged denial(s) of promotion.

    The court approved Settlement formula used by the Settlement Administrator is described in more detail in Section X of the Settlement Agreement.

  • Please call the Settlement Administrator at 1-844-975-1785 for your specific estimated benefit amount.

  • In addition to the automatic award, a 10% enhancement is available to Settlement Class Members who elected to submit a Claim Form indicating their belief that they were denied a promotion due to their race. In order to be eligible to receive this enhancement, you had to must complete or mail the Enhancement Claim Form, also attached to the Notice, to the Settlement Administrator. The Enhancement Claim Form had to be either returned postmarked or filed on-line by no later than January 22, 2022.

  • Please refer to your Notice or call the Settlement Administrator at 1-844-975-1785 for your specific work weeks on record.

  • If you believe the information regarding your weeks worked in a covered position during the 325-week Class Period is not accurate, please contact the Settlement Administrator, JND, at 1-844-975-1785 by January 22, 2022. There will be a response within 14 days based on Defendants’ payroll records regarding weeks worked in Class positions. Settlement Class Members will also be invited to submit documentation if they wish, although it will not be required.

  • The February 9, 2022 Fairness Hearing was taken off calendar pending the filing of supplemental materials by March 9, 2022.  If a new hearing is scheduled, the information about that hearing will be posted here.  Checks will be issued if the Court finally approves the Settlement and there are no appeals.

  • Any Individual Settlement Award checks not cashed after one hundred and eighty (180) days from the date of their issuance shall be void.

  • 1/3 or (33.33%) of your Individual Settlement Award will be reported as wages on an IRS Form W-2 with all appropriate wage taxes withheld. The remaining 2/3 or (66.67%) of your Individual Settlement Award will be reported as non-wage income on an IRS Form 1099. You are responsible for your own taxes and should consult a tax professional for more information about your own specific situation. Neither Class Counsel nor the Settlement Administrator are not tax advisors and cannot give you advice on any tax matters.

  • If more than $100,000 of the Individual Settlement Awards remain uncashed 180 days after mailing, there will be a second distribution, only to those Settlement Class Members who cashed their initial Individual Settlement Award checks. If less than $100,000 of the Individual Settlement Awards are uncashed, or any of the second Individual Settlement Award checks are uncashed, any Individual Settlement Award checks that remain uncashed after 180 days will be voided, and the funds from all uncashed checks shall be donated to the non-profit organization, Equal Justice Society. Settlement Class Members whose Individual Settlement Award check(s) are voided still remain bound by the Settlement.

  • When the Court enters an Order granting Final Approval of the Class Settlement, every member of the Class who has not validly exercised their right to opt out of the Settlement will fully and forever release pay and promotion claims based on alleged race discrimination against African American employees by the Kaiser-Related Entities and all other Released Parties as described in the Agreement arising at any time from January 1, 2015 through March 31, 2021, inclusive. When claims are “released” it means that a person covered by the release cannot sue the Kaiser-Related Entities or the Released Parties for these claims.

    A brief summary of the claims being released is provided below. The full terms of release are set forth in Section VI of the Settlement Agreement.

    Class Members who do not timely opt out will release all of the following claims upon the Effective Date of the Settlement Agreement: Except as to such rights or claims as may be created by this Agreement, each Member of the Settlement Class (including Plaintiffs) who does not properly and timely opt out of this Settlement will be deemed Settlement Class Members under the federal and state discrimination laws invoked in the Action, and will fully release and be deemed to have released and fully and finally resolved, waived, and discharged, for themselves and their attorneys, agents, spouses, heirs, executors, administrators, dependents, successors, and assignees (the “Class Member Releasors”), all claims, demands, causes of action, and liabilities, known and unknown, that they had, have, or may have at any time up through March 31, 2021, under any legal or equitable theory, whether contractual, common-law, or statutory, and whether under federal, state, local, or foreign law against Defendants, any of the organizations participating in the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program (“The Program”) (including, but not limited to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. and Southern California Permanente Medical Group), and each such entity’s respective affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, related companies, partners, officers, directors, managers, servants, agents, employees, former employees, representatives, attorneys, insurers, successors, and assigns, past or present, and all persons acting under, by, through, or in concert with any of them (collectively, the “Released Parties”), based on any facts alleged, or on claims or theories raised or that could have been raised based on facts alleged in this Action, the Complaint, and any prior version of the Complaint filed in this Action relating to race discrimination in pay or promotion, or any alleged denial of equal pay based on race. The rights and claims released (collectively, the “Released Claims”) include: (i) claims for unequal pay based on race, and (ii) claims for disparate treatment and pattern and practice discrimination based on race with respect to all forms of compensation (including but not limited to hourly pay, overtime, premium pay, salary, bonus, and salary grades), raises, job assignments, job code placement, demotions, and denial of promotions, and (iii) claims for disparate impact discrimination based on race with respect to all forms of compensation (including but not limited to hourly pay, overtime, premium pay, salary, bonus, and salary grades), raises, job assignments, job code placement, demotions, and denial of promotions. The Settlement Class shall release all claims and theories that could be pleaded for the facts alleged, including under the following laws and their implementing regulations: (i) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§2000e, et seq., Executive Order 11246, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and (ii) the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code § 12940 et seq., the California Equal Pay Act, as amended, Cal. Lab. Code §1197.5, the California’s Business & Professions Code §17200, et seq., and the California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, Cal. Lab. Code §§2698-2699.

  • Neither the Settlement nor any amounts paid under the Settlement will modify any previously credited hours of service under any employee benefit plan, policy, or program, nor will such amount form the basis for additional contributions to, benefits under, or any other monetary entitlement under any benefit plans, policies, or programs.

  • If you wished to be excluded from the money payments of the Settlement, you had to mail or email a written, personally signed (in ink) statement that you are opting out (“Opt-Out request”) to the Settlement Administrator at: Stewart v. Kaiser Permanente Settlement Administrator, c/o JND Legal Administration, P.O. Box 91344, Seattle, WA 98111 or info@kaisersettlement.com. The Opt-Out request had to be physically signed by you, and had to contain your full name, address, and telephone number. It also had to contain the words: “I elect to exclude myself from the Settlement in Stewart v. Kaiser Entities, Case No. CGC-21-590966. I will, however, be covered and bound by the business changes provided by the Settlement if employed by Defendants.” To be effective, your Opt-Out Statement had to be postmarked or emailed no later than January 22, 2022. If you did not complete a timely Opt-Out request, you will be bound by the release, and you will give up your rights to sue the Kaiser-Related Entities and the Released Parties regarding the legal claims in this Action. (In Such Case, you will still receive the automatic payment.)

    Alternatively, if you submitted an Opt-Out request, you will not receive any money from the Settlement, but you will retain the right to bring your own separate lawsuit. You then will not have the right to object. However, because the State of California was notified of the potential Labor Code violations in the Stewart matter and will receive $86,286 as a result, you will not be able to bring claims for penalties under California’s Private Attorney General Act, Cal. Lab. Code §§2698 et seq. even if you opt out, if the Settlement is approved with the PAGA payment going to the State. At that point, a court could deem those claims for penalties litigated and resolved, and you will be equitably estopped from bringing duplicative claims.

  • If you believe the Settlement is unfair or inadequate, you could have objected, personally or through an attorney, by mailing or emailing a copy of your objection to the Settlement Administrator at the address set forth above in FAQ 19. You are solely responsible for the fees and costs of your own attorney.

    You cannot both object to the Settlement and request to exclude yourself from the Settlement. If you wished to object to the Settlement, you must mail or email a personally signed (in ink) written statement to the Settlement Administrator that contains your full name, address and telephone number. Your objection had to be physically signed by you, had to indicate that you "object to the Settlement in Stewart v. Kaiser Entities, Case No. CGC-21-590966", and had to contain a written statement of all grounds for your objection. To be effective, your objection must be postmarked or emailed no later than January 22, 2022.

    Please do not telephone the Court or the Kaiser-Related Entities’ counsel about the substance of objections. If you did not serve written objections within the time provided, you are deemed to have waived such objections and will not be permitted to make any objections (by appeal or otherwise) to the Settlement, subject to the Court's determination in the exercise of its discretion. If the Court rejects your objection, you will still be bound by the terms of the Settlement. You are not required to appear in Court.

  • Objecting is simply telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement Class. You can object to the settlement only if you stay in the Settlement Class. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you have no basis to object, because the Settlement no longer affects you. If you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you will remain a member of the Settlement Class and will be bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement (including the release contained therein) and all orders and judgments entered by the Court regarding the Settlement regardless of whether the Court accepts or denies your objection.

  • Counsel for Plaintiffs and the Class (“Class Counsel”) are the firms Medina Orthwein LLP and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. As is routine in class action cases, Class Counsel will request to be paid attorneys’ fees and costs from the Class Settlement Fund, as described in FAQ 5. Class Counsel’s motion for approval of attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of costs must be filed by December 23, 2021. The Court will determine the actual amount of the fees and costs awarded. Class Members are not personally liable for any fees and costs.

    Medina Orthwein LLP
    230 Grand Avenue, Suite 201 Oakland, California 94610
    Tel: (510) 823-2040
    Email: admin@medinaorthwein.com

    Lieff, Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP
    275 Battery Street, 29th Floor
    San Francisco, California 94111
    Tel: (415) 956-1000
    Email: StewartSettlement@lchb.com

  • A Fairness Hearing was scheduled for February 9, 2022 but was taken off calendar pending the filing of supplemental materials by March 9, 2022. If a new hearing is scheduled, the information about that hearing will be posted here.

    At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will determine whether the proposed Class Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate, and should be finally approved. At that time, the Court will also decide whether to approve Class Counsel’s request for attorneys’ fees and reimbursement of costs, and the Class Representative Service Awards.

    It is not necessary for you to appear at this hearing.

    If the Settlement is not approved, the Lawsuit will continue, including to trial, or other judicial resolution.

    The Court may postpone the hearing without further notification to the Class. To view the official docket for this action, however, please use this online link. After using the link, click on “I’m not a robot,” insert the case number “CGC-21-590966” where there is a prompt for case number, and click “search” on the landing page.

    You may also wish to refer to the Court’s website to review any instructions from the Court for the hearing due to COVID-19.

  • More information can be found by reviewing the Notice and Court documents located on the Important Documents page of this website or by contacting the Settlement Administrator via email at info@kaisersettlement.com or toll-free on 1-844-975-1785. Papers filed in the case may be inspected at the Office of the Clerk of the San Francisco County Superior Court, located at 400 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, during the Court’s regular business hours of each court day (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). If judgment is entered, it will be posted on this website.

    All inquiries about the Settlement should be directed to Class Counsel or to the Settlement Administrator at:

    Stewart v. Kaiser Permanente Settlement Administrator
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    P.O. Box 91344
    Seattle, WA 98111
    Phone: 1-844-975-1785 or contact the Administrator online

  • You can notify the Settlement Administrator of a change of name or address by mail or email. To update your address, please include your name, your current address, and your prior mailing address in your request. To update your name, please provide your current and former names along with a copy of a legal document showing the name change, such as a marriage license, divorce decree, or change of name order. Please also list the case name, Stewart v. Kaiser Permanente, with your request.

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Mail
Stewart v. Kaiser Permanente Settlement Administrator
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91344
Seattle, WA 98111