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Lockheed Tells Court Race Bias Class Should Be Scrapped Again

Jan. 10, 2019, 9:05 PM

A group of black workers who allege that Lockheed Martin Corp.‘s performance appraisal system discriminates based on race shouldn’t be allowed to pursue their claims as a class, the company told a federal judge in the District of Columbia Jan. 10.

The second amended complaint Vernon Ross and Debra Josey filed on behalf of themselves and other, similarly situated black workers doesn’t cure the problems the court identified when it previously denied class certification in July 2017, Lockheed said.

That ruling by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also rejected a proposed $22.8 million settlement between the aerospace and defense company and a class of roughly 5,500 black workers.

The proposed class still fails to identify some “common way” in which Lockheed supervisors exercise their alleged unfettered discretion under the appraisal system in a manner that harms black workers either intentionally or inadvertently, the company says in its Jan. 10 supplemental brief.

Ross and Josey also fail to identify the alleged flaws in Lockheed’s employee review scheme that results in the alleged disparate treatment or disparate impact discrimination, the company says.

The filing comes after the court heard oral argument Dec. 14 on Lockheed’s motion to dismiss the renewed class action claims.

Ross and Josey argue in their own Dec. 21 supplemental brief that discovery is first necessary for the proposed class to show the kind of common question of law or fact
among their claims that the U.S. Supreme Court held is required for certification in class cases and that Lockheed says in missing here.

Discovery is needed so the workers may learn how Lockheed created its employee appraisal system, how the system operates in practice, whether and how Lockheed monitored and adjusted the system for race-based inequities, and for a variety of other reasons, Ross and Josey say.

Mehri & Skalet PLLC and Engelmeier & Umanah P.A. represent the proposed class. Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP represents Lockheed.

The case is Ross v. Lockheed Martin Corp., D.D.C., No. 16-cv-02508, supplemental brief filed 1/10/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at; C. Reilly Larson at