University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States of America v. The City of Wilmington, Delaware EE-DE-0033
Docket / Court 96-447-MMS ( D. Del. )
State/Territory Delaware
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On September 11, 1996 the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit against the City of Wilmington, Delaware in the U.S. District Court of Delaware to enforce Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq. The D.O.J. asked the court for injunctive and compensatory relief, alleging that ... read more >
On September 11, 1996 the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit against the City of Wilmington, Delaware in the U.S. District Court of Delaware to enforce Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq. The D.O.J. asked the court for injunctive and compensatory relief, alleging that the defendant had violated Title VII by discriminating against an individual employee in the police department of Wilmington by failing to accommodate the employees religious observance, practice, and belief in the wearing of a beard.

The complaint alleges that the City of Wilmington violated Title VII by: (1) failing or refusing reasonably to accommodate the employee's religious observance, practice and belief of wearing a beard; (2) suspending the employee for 40 hours without pay because of religious observance, practice and belief of wearing a beard; (3) further suspending the employee for ten days without pay because employees continued religious observance, practice and belief of wearing a beard; (4) failing or refusing to take appropriate action to remedy the effects of the discrimination against employee.

On March 7, 1997 Judge Murray M. Schwartz signed the order entering the consent decree agreed on by both parties. The consent decree provides that the defendant: (1) shall not engage in any act or practice that has the purpose or effect of unlawfully discriminating against any employee or potential employee on good faith religious observances, practices and/or beliefs, including the observance, practice and/or belief of wearing a beard; (2) defendant shall not retaliate against or in any respect adversely affect the employee or any other person because that person has opposed allegedly discriminatory policies or practices, has filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or because of that person's participation in or cooperation with the initiation, investigation, litigation or administration of this case or this decree; (3) Defendant shall implement and use non-discriminatory employment policies designed reasonably to accommodate the good faith religious observances, practices and/or beliefs of employees; (4) Defendant shall provide training with respect to Title VII's prohibition against employment discrimination based on religion to its Police Department supervisory personnel; (5) Within thirty days after the date of entry of this Decree, the City shall post notices of the settlement of this lawsuit in a prominent and conspicuous location used for posting notices at the Wilmington Police Department for ninety days.



The consent decree further provides specific compensation to the employee: (1) offer back pay for the 40 hours time employee was initially suspended, and the 10 days in which the employee was later suspended, including interest accrued; (2) the city will make a payment into the employee's pension fund with interest accrued; (3) the city shall pay a monetary award to employee which will be considered compensatory relief; (4) The City shall offer to expunge from its records and files all documents, records or information relating to proposed or actual disciplinary action taken against employee; (5) that the beard worn by the employee would not be in violation of the anticipated grooming policy.

The case was closed on March 7, 1997.

James Floyd - 11/11/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) City of Wilmington
Plaintiff Description United States on behalf of an employee in the Wilmington Police Department
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1997
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:96-cv-00447-MMS (D. Del.) 03/07/1997
EE-DE-0033-9000.pdf | Detail
General Documents
Consent Decree 03/07/1997
EE-DE-0033-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Judges Schwartz, Murray Merle (D. Del.)
EE-DE-0033-0001 | EE-DE-0033-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Green, David A (Delaware)
EE-DE-0033-0001 | EE-DE-0033-9000
Levy, Allen W. (District of Columbia)
EE-DE-0033-0001
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
EE-DE-0033-0001
Sleet, Gregory Moneta (Delaware)
EE-DE-0033-0001 | EE-DE-0033-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Morgan, John W (Delaware)
EE-DE-0033-0001 | EE-DE-0033-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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