Volume 50, Issue 1 - January 2015


Court Approves Settlements in Steel Price-Fixing Lawsuit

More litigation has come to a close regarding an alleged price-fixing lawsuit involving major players in the steel industry.

In 2008, Pennsylvania-based Standard Iron Works and four other companies filed a lawsuit alleging U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal conspired with six other domestic steel manufacturers “to manipulate the supply and price of steel products sold in the United States,” according to court documents. The plaintiffs alleged that, from April 1, 2005 to December 31, 2007, the eight steelmakers “conspired to restrict their output, thereby increasing the prices they were able to charge for steel products.”

Litigation has been ongoing since, though five of the companies listed as defendants—Commercial Metals Company, AK Steel Holding Corporation, Gerdau Ameristeel Corporation, ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel—settled earlier this year.

Their settlements, according to court documents, were recently approved in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. Judge James B. Zagel issued final approval for ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel on October 21 and AK Steel, Commercial Metals and Gerdau on October 23. Throughout litigation, all of the settling defendants denied any wrongdoing as well as the allegations against them, though they claimed to have settled in order to avoid the cost of further litigation and trial.

The settlement amounts, which totaled $163.9 million, were made in accordance with the size of the companies and their output during the span of the alleged price-fixing.

According to court documents, ArcelorMittal accounted for approximately 20 to 25 percent of the total domestic raw steel capacity during that time, while U.S. Steel controlled approximately 16 percent.

Nucor, Steel Dynamics and SSAB Swedish Steel have yet to settle.

Oran Safety Glass Faces
Pregnancy Lawsuit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Oran Safety Glass Inc. alleging that the manufacturer violated federal law when it fired a female employee because she was pregnant.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Nicole Williams was fired in early June of 2012, roughly a month after she began working as an assistant quality control supervisor at the company’s facility in Emporia, Va. The EEOC alleges the company notified Williams she was fired less than two weeks after she notified the company she was pregnant.

Williams’ ability to perform her job, according to the complaint, “was not affected by her pregnancy.” In fact, the complaint claims Williams’ work was “commended” by the company’s management and that she was “not informed of any issues related to the performance of her job prior to her termination.”

“No working woman should have to fear losing her job simply because she decides to have a child,” says Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “Employers must remember that terminating an employee because she is pregnant violates federal law, and the EEOC will enforce that law.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, seeks back pay, front pay and/or reinstatement, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for Williams, as well as injunctive relief. According to the EEOC, the suit comes after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through the agency’s conciliation process.

Oran Safety Glass Inc. manufactures armored safety glass, such as bullet-resistant glass for use by the military and in private sector applications. It is a privately owned company headquartered in Israel with two manufacturing facilities in Israel and one in Emporia, where Williams was employed.

According to court documents, such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

Oran Safety Glass did not return request for comment.

An extension for post-confirmation deadlines for the Dlubak Corp. bankruptcy proceedings was granted for the second time in a little more than three months. Dlubak Specialty Glass, which is owned by Consolidated Glass Holdings, is not a part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

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