CHARLESTON, S.C., Feb. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A U.S. District Court Judge who denied class certification to seven Nucor employees four years ago reversed his prior ruling today without the introduction of any new testimony or evidence. Judge C. Weston Houck followed the order of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to certify the lawsuit as a class action.
Today's ruling does not concern the legal merits of the case, just how it will proceed.
"We believe Judge Houck made the correct decision when he denied class certification in 2007 on allegations that were isolated and many of which allegedly occurred over a decade ago. He had a lot of time and information to make the correct ruling," said Giff Daughtridge, Vice President and General Manager of Nucor Steel – Berkeley. "However, today's ruling has been made and now we look forward to the opportunity to pursue all avenues of appeal of this procedural decision. The allegations of discrimination are simply that – allegations. We plan to appeal this procedural ruling. We are certain that even if the case does proceed, once the facts are finally examined by a jury, it will be clear that Nucor has always treated its employees fairly and given them every opportunity to succeed, regardless of the color of their skin."
Judge Houck denied class certification to seven plaintiffs in Brown et al. v. Nucor on August 7, 2007, characterizing plaintiffs' statistical evidence of discrimination as "insignificant" and of "diminish[ed] probative value." But a divided three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit reversed Judge Houck's initial ruling and instructed him to certify the lawsuit as a class action. One of the three judges dissented, arguing that the appellate court had inappropriately substituted its own opinion of the facts by reversing Judge Houck's findings.
The order certifying the class reflects that the Court had little alternative in light of the Fourth Circuit's opinion. And the Fourth Circuit's opinion was based on a standard for certifying class actions that is currently being challenged in the United States Supreme Court in perhaps the most significant class action case in history—Dukes v. Wal-Mart. The Supreme Court's decision in the Wal-Mart case may require this current case to be re-evaluated under a clarified procedural standard, and Nucor will continue to fight this class certification decision. While these seven individual cases have now been converted to a class action, no discrimination at the Berkeley facility has ever been proven.
"Nucor's success has always been dependent upon the individuals who make up our team," Daughtridge said. "Our pay system rewards everyone's teamwork by sharing the financial success of the company with every person in Nucor, making fair treatment of our team a top priority. These programs and policies result in Nucor historically paying some of the highest wages in the State of South Carolina. This is in addition to the fact that Nucor has never had a layoff, a distinction that few employers in today's tough economy can match."
About Nucor Corporation: Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE) and affiliates are manufacturers of steel products, with operating facilities primarily in the United States and Canada. Nucor is North America's largest recycler. A FORTUNE 500 company, Nucor is based in Charlotte, NC and employs more than 20,000 people at approximately 200 operating facilities across the country.
Nucor is dedicated to the success of its team. All team members participate in profit sharing and receive an excellent benefits package that includes comprehensive health insurance and tuition reimbursement. Additionally, every child of every Nucor employee is entitled to scholarship money through the Nucor Foundation. The foundation has awarded more than $52 million in scholarships since 1974.
Nucor Steel – Berkeley and its team members are actively involved in the community, providing support to the United Way, MUSC Children's Hospital, the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life", East Cooper Community Outreach's "Out of Poverty" initiatives and many other worthy causes.
SOURCE Nucor Corporation