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Case Name United States v. City of Hialeah EE-FL-0134
Docket / Court 1:94-cv-01140-SH ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On June 7, 1994 the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq., in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the City of Hialeah, Florida. The D.O.J. asked the court ... read more >
On June 7, 1994 the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et seq., in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida against the City of Hialeah, Florida. The D.O.J. asked the court for injunctive and compensatory relief, alleging that the defendant had violated Title VII through its discriminatory hiring practices in the police and fire departments, which excluded potential employees based on their race, black.



The D.O.J. alleged that the defendant utilized written examinations in the selection of candidates for appointment to entry-level police officer and firefighter positions that had an adverse impact upon blacks. Furthermore, the examinations had been shown to not be job related and consistent with business necessity. On June 7, 1994 the parties entered into a tentative settlement agreement over the matter. The settlement agreement held that: (1) the city shall not engage in any act or practice that has either the purpose or effect of discrimination unlawfully against any black employee, applicant for black employment with the city's Police or Fire departments because of an individual's race. The city further agrees not to retaliate against or adversely affect any person because of that person's race, or because that person has opposed discriminatory policies or practices, or because that person's participation in or cooperation with the initiation, investigation, litigation, or administration; (2) The city shall implement a recruitment program to designed increase the number of black officers in its Police and Fire departments to reflect the availability and interest in the relevant labor market; (3) That the city shall immediately begin development of a written police officer and firefighter examinations that meet criterion validity. Development and validation of examinations shall be conducted by an outside consultant. The newly developed written examination shall: (a) have no adverse impact on test takers on the basis of race, national origin, or sex; (b) be demonstrably job related for the positions in questions and consistent with necessity; (4) The city shall provide priority employment to 15 former black firefighter applicants and 15 former black police applicants identified pursuant to terms of the agreement, 18 of the 30 would be offered employment within 6 months of the consent decree; (5) The individuals who accept priority employment shall be entitled to immediate retroactive seniority from within 6 months that the individual originally applied for employment and seniority shall be credited for all purposes with which seniority it used (including promotions, job bidding, pay reductions in force, shift assignments, vacations, and accrual of annual leave) as well as entitlement to full pension benefits; (6) The city shall also provide monetary relief in the form of $450,000 to be disbursed among all applicants that are deemed eligible.

On June 29, 1994, upon motion by the United States, the Dade County Police Benevolent Association ("P.B.A.") and Hialeah Association of Firefighters Local 112 ("Union") were added as defendants to ensure that provisions of the settlement agreement could be fully implemented. Both filed objections with the court and argued the city failed to bargain with the Union or P.B.A. over the terms of the agreement and had therefore violated law and had infringed upon the rights bargained for by incumbent employees under the collective bargaining agreement. On August 11, 1994, a fairness hearing occurred in which the court allowed a defendant-intervener and 200 other police officers to intervene and were allowed to present evidence against the retroactive seniority part of the settlement agreement. The disagreement was over competitive seniority in which the officers would be put at a disadvantage compared to their newly hired counterparts. On August 16, 1994 Judge Shelby Highsmith held: (1) proposed settlement agreement would not approved against objections of the non-consenting parties; (2) proposed agreement would not be approved because it was not "fair" due to the anticipated effect of agreement's remedial retroactive seniority provision upon incumbent city employees. The judge did agree that the plaintiff had established a prima facie case of discrimination. On December 9, 1994, the District Court approved a partial settlement agreement and consent decree which was nearly identical to the original except that it leaves open for litigation the question of whether retroactive competitive seniority should be imposed.

The D.O.J. appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Individual police officers filed cross-appeals as objectors. Circuit Judge Edward Earl Carnes affirmed the District Court's decision and held that: (1) all orders refusing to enter consent decrees in Title VII cases are automatically appealable under statue allowing review of interlocutory district court orders refusing injunctions; (2) objecting party is entitled to adjudication of its rights at trial on merits before those rights are infringed or modified by consent decree; (3) proposed consent decree's retroactive competitive seniority provisions would adversely affect legal rights conferred on incumbent police and firefighters employees by their respective collective bargaining agreements, thus barring approval of those provisions over union's objections. The cross-appeal was found to be moot. Senior Circuit Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch filed a dissenting opinion in the case. Provisions of the Settlement Agreement were extended over the course of the next 6 years.

The case was closed on March 18, 2004.

James Floyd - 11/05/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Fire
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-area
Hiring
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) City of Hialeah
Plaintiff Description United States on behalf prospective black employees of the fire and police departments
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 1994 - 2003
Case Closing Year 2004
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)
1:94-cv-01140-SH (S.D. Fla.) 03/18/2004
EE-FL-0134-9000 PDF | Detail
General Documents
Memorandum in Support of Motion to Intervene and Objections to the Stipulation and Settlement Agreements 01/01/1994
EE-FL-0134-0001 PDF | Detail
Opinion 08/16/1994 (899 F.Supp. 603) (S.D. Fla.)
EE-FL-0134-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Brief 02/10/1997
EE-FL-0134-0003 PDF | Detail
Reply Brief 05/01/1997
EE-FL-0134-0002 PDF | Detail
Opinion 05/07/1998 (140 F.3d 968)
EE-FL-0134-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Highsmith, Shelby (S.D. Fla.)
EE-FL-0134-0005 | EE-FL-0134-9000
Kravitch, Phyllis A. (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
EE-FL-0134-0006
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Harrell-James, Veronica Vanessa (Florida)
EE-FL-0134-0002 | EE-FL-0134-9000
Levy, Allen W. (District of Columbia)
EE-FL-0134-9000
Simon, Leslie A. (District of Columbia)
EE-FL-0134-0002 | EE-FL-0134-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Axelrad, Andrew Marc (Florida)
EE-FL-0134-9000
Klausner, Robert David (Florida)
EE-FL-0134-0001 | EE-FL-0134-0002 | EE-FL-0134-0003 | EE-FL-0134-9000
Sugarman, Robert A (Florida)
EE-FL-0134-0002 | EE-FL-0134-0003 | EE-FL-0134-9000
Vilarello, Alejandro (Florida)
EE-FL-0134-0002 | EE-FL-0134-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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