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 ...
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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