King v. Pepsi Cola Metro. Bottling Co.

86 F.R.D. 4 (E.D. Pa. 1979)



Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a) permits the joinder of plaintiffs in an action if they assert any right to relief arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and presenting any question of law or fact common to all the persons to be joined. This requirement is cumulative in nature, that is, both the common question and the same transaction portions must be satisfied. Fed. R. Civ. P. 21 gives the court the power to remedy the misjoinder of parties, either on motion of any party or on its own initiative, by order that a party be dropped or added or that the claim against any party should be severed and proceeded with separately.


The employees filed a racial discrimination action against the employer, and the court dismissed certain claims for relief. The remaining claims alleged a right to relief under § 2 of the Act, 42 U.S.C.S. §1981. The employer filed a motion in the alternative seeking a severance of the employees or separate trials before a separate jury for each employee, which was the same as a severance. The employer asserts that since the employees did not move for a class action, then they can only recover their individual claims without regard to their allegation of discrimination.


Does the failure of the employees to seek a class designation preclude them from proving employer’s acts of discrimination?




The court denied the employer's motion, finding that the employees' complaint alleged that specific instances of discrimination occurred against each employee, as well as a general and pervasive corporate policy of discrimination by the employer against blacks. The failure of the employees to seek a class designation did not preclude them from proving that the employer discriminated as a matter of policy. There would be a substantial overlap in the evidence and witnesses presented. The claims were not so diverse and multiple that a reasonable jury could not segregate the evidence and decide the separate claims. Even though one employee's case would involve evidence different from the others, his claim was united with the others by the allegations of the discrimination policy.

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