University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Stewart v. Rubin EE-DC-0036
Docket / Court 90-CV-2841 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On November 16, 1990, African-American agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) sued the agency, then a branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, in the United District Court for the District of Columbia (Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth) alleging racial discrimination in ... read more >
On November 16, 1990, African-American agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) sued the agency, then a branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, in the United District Court for the District of Columbia (Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth) alleging racial discrimination in hiring, promotion, benefits, and other aspects of employment.

Several parties moved to intervene, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the A.T.F. Hispanic Agents' Association, the National Association of Treasury Agents (NATA), andseveral dozen individual movants.

The Complaint

The complaint and amended complaints are not publicly available. However, according to a published district court order issued on November 21, 1996, current and former black special agents of the ATF filed a class action lawsuit alleging disparate impact and treatment based on race in promotions, discipline, awards, assignment, hiring, wrongful terminations, retaliation, and other areas. Stewart v. Rubin, 948 F. Supp. 1077 (D.D.C. 1996). The plaintiffs cited the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-16 et seq. and sought injunctive relief, retroactive promotions and tenure, back pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys' fees and costs.

On November 21, 1996, the District Court certified a class under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2) of "all African-American individuals who were ATF Special Agents in the GS-1811 Series at any time between December 25, 1983 and the Entry of Judgment in the District Court." Stewart v. Rubin, 948 F. Supp. 1077 (D.D.C. 1996). The Court also gave final approval to a settlement agreement under the strict scrutiny standard of Section 108 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(n)., which precluded future challenges to the terms of the settlement.

The settlement included $4.7 million in damages for back pay, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. The defendants were also to pay $1.2 million in attorneys' fees for the lawsuit and up to $150,000 for costs of administering the settlement. The settlement included non-monetary relief, which required the ATF to develop a revised hiring and promotion policy, among other . The ATF's director would be the final arbiter of any decisions, although a "recommending official" selected by mutual consent of both parties would participate in decisions. The ATF was also required to collaborate with the plaintiffs' expert in developing a new promotion policy.


The November 1996 opinion also dealt with intervenors' motions. Several hundred non-class members challenged the settlement, including Hispanic agents and white agents who alleged the settlement would adversely affect them. However, the District Court dismissed these motions for untimeliness and lack of standing. On May 22, 1997, in an unpublished table opinion in the Federal Reporter, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the District Court's denial of the motions to intervene. See Stewart v. Rubin, 124 F.3d 1309 (C.A.D.C. 1997).

Disagreement Over Compliance With The Settlement

On July 1, 1999, in an unpublished opinion, the District Court denied the plaintiffs' motion for an order to enforce the terms of the settlement. The ATF was laterally transfering field agents to headquarters. The plaintiffs alleged this violated the settlement agreement because it required competitive promotions for headquarters positions, rather than lateral transfers. However, the court found that transfers to headquarters were not "promotions" within the terms of the agreement because they did not increase pay grade.

On September 3, 2002, the District Court denied the plaintiffs' motion to hold the Treasury Department Secretary in contempt for failure to comply with the settlement. Stewart v. O'Neill, 225 F. Supp. 2d 6 (D.D.C. 2002). The Court held that there was no basis for extending its jurisdiction over the settlement agreement, which had since lapsed, and that the defendant had breached the agreement only in failing to timely provide statistical reports, which did not justify a contempt order.

On September 21, 2004, in an unpublished order, the District Court entered final judgment, in order to allow an appeal. The plaintiffs' motion for final judgment outlines many allegations against the Treasury Department as to why it should have been held in contempt. On April 1, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in an unpublished order, dismissed the plaintiffs' appeal. This is the last entry on the docket.

Eric Weiler - 08/15/2010

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Content of Injunction
Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Retaliation Prohibition
Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria
Utilize objective job description
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Race discrimination
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)
Plaintiff Description current and former African-American enforcement GS-1811 series Special Agents employed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1996 - 2001
Filing Year 1990
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing EE-DC-0044 : Contreras v. Ridge (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0070 : Moore v. Summers (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0043 : Moore v. Chertoff (D.D.C.)
1:90-cv-02841 (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0036-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Findings Of Fact And Conclusions Of Law [Certifying Class; Approving Settlement Agreement; Denying Motions To Intervene] (948 F.Supp. 1077) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0036-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/21/1996
Source: Westlaw
Order [Upholding District Court Order Denying Right To Intervene] (124 F.3d 1309)
EE-DC-0036-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/22/1997
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Opinion [Denying Plaintiffs' Motion For An Order Requiring Defendants To Comply With The Settlement Agreement] [ECF# 533] (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0036-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/01/1999
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion And Order [Denying Motion To Consolidate With Customs Service Case] (225 F.Supp.2d 16) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0036-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/03/2002
Memorandum Opinion And Order [Denying Plaintiffs' Motion To Hold Defendants In Contempt For Violating Settlemetn Agreement] (225 F.Supp.2d 6) (D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0036-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/03/2002
Source: Google Scholar
[Plaintiffs'] Motion For Entry Of Judgment Pursuant To Rule 54(b) [ECF# 577]
EE-DC-0036-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lamberth, Royce C. (FISC, D.D.C.)
EE-DC-0036-0001 | EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-0003 | EE-DC-0036-0005 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Tatel, David S. (D.C. Circuit)
Wald, Patricia McGowan (D.C. Circuit)
Williams, Stephen Fain (D.C. Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Douglass, Alvin (District of Columbia)
Esser, Karen (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Hochberg, Jerome (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Maddox, John (District of Columbia)
Morrison, James (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0001 | EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Pollack, Michael J. (Virginia)
Riselli, Michael J (Virginia)
Sampson, Richard (Maryland)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Schmidt, Ronald A. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-0004 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Shaffer, David J. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0001 | EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-0004 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Wilson, Jerusa (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ambrosino, Michael (District of Columbia)
Dempster, William (Maryland)
Rider, Sally (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Thomas, Roderick (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0001 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Weinstein, Laurie J. (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Zane, Daria Jean (District of Columbia)
Other Lawyers Clay, Thomas E. (Kentucky)
Davis, John W. (District of Columbia)
Herrera, Jose M. (Florida)
EE-DC-0036-0001 | EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Laponsky, Mark (District of Columbia)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Randle, Prather (Tennessee)
EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000
Sanders, Robert Ernest (North Carolina)
EE-DC-0036-0001 | EE-DC-0036-0002 | EE-DC-0036-9000

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