U.S. Secret Service settles race
discrimination case with black agents
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[January 18, 2017]
By Brendan O'Brien
(Reuters) - The U.S. Secret Service has
agreed to pay $24 million to settle a 17-year-old federal lawsuit filed
by a group of black agents who accused the agency of racial
discrimination in its employment practices.
The agreement settles a protracted legal battle that began in 2000 when
10 black agents filed a lawsuit in a Washington D.C. federal court,
claiming the Secret Service had violated the civil rights of black
agents for decades while ignoring their complaints, court records
"Had the matter gone to trial, it would have required that we re-live
things long past, just at a time when the Secret Service is on the
mend," Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement.
"This settlement is also, simply, the right thing to do."
The 10 agents accused the Secret Service of racial discrimination in how
it selected agents for promotions. They also claimed the agency
conducted unfair hiring, assignment and transfer practices while
fostering a racially hostile workplace, court documents showed.
A group of more than 100 agents joined the lawsuit over time, the
Washington Post reported. Under the resolution, the Secret Service could
pay as much as $300,000 each to the agents who originally sued the
"At long last . . . black Secret Service agents will not be constrained
by the glass ceiling that held back so many for so long," Jennifer Klar,
a lawyer for the agents, told the newspaper.
The Secret Service admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to reform its
employment and promotion practices, the complaint process for employees
and how it keeps records, the agreement said.
[to top of second column]
Secret Service agents are reflected in a puddle as U.S. President
Barack Obama arrives to board Air Force One at Stansted Airport in
Stansted, Britain April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The agency, charged with protecting the president and his family,
has dealt with a lengthy list of problems during the past few years,
including a prostitution scandal in Colombia and a high-profile
security lapse when a man jumped the fence surrounding the White
House complex and ran into the mansion armed with a knife.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Mark
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