On May 3, 2000, ten black current and former special agents of the United States Secret Service filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981a (the Civil Rights Act of 1991) against the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit individually and on behalf of a putative class of black special agents who were employed by the U.S. Secret Service as GS-1811's at any point from January 1, 1974 to the present.
The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought equitable relief including back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, a declaratory judgment, and an injunction, alleging that the Secret Service had engaged in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination in promotions as well as in transfers, assignments, testing, hiring, and disciplinary practices.
On June 30, 2000, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss. After a lengthy period of discovery, on October 24, 2004, the court (Judge Richard W. Roberts) issued a memorandum opinion and order granting in part and denying in part the defendant's motion to dismiss.
On May 1, 2006 and August 7, 2006, the plaintiffs filed two amended complaints. On May 31, 2006 and again on September 20, 2006, the defendant filed motions for partial dismissal and/or for partial summary judgment, which the court denied without prejudice on June 26, 2008.
On August 4, 2010, the Court issued a memorandum opinion and order denying plaintiffs' motion for class certification, holding (1) that the class representatives' claims were not typical of the class members' claim and (2) that there was a potential conflict of interest among the class plaintiffs and the class members.
After further development, in February 2013, the Court granted class certification. 926 F.Supp.2d 8. In February of 2014, the defendants moved for a partial motion to dismiss, summary judgment, and to reopen discovery. On March 4, 2014, the Court refused to reopen discovery for the defendants on the grounds that the plaintiff's class-certification does not warrant reopening discovery. Litigation continued and in 2015, the defendants moved again for summary judgment.
The court had a hearing on both motions for summary judgment on May 5, 2016.
On January 17, 2017, before the court issued an opinion on the motions for summary judgment, the defendant filed a notice of settlement agreement after 16 years of litigation. On January 27, 2017, the parties filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of settlement agreement, which was approved by the court on January 31, 2017. The plaintiff also filed a motion for preliminary approval of distribution of settlement proceeds, which was granted by the court on February 16, 2017. The court, however, did not address the proposed payment attorney's fees and costs in the order.
The proposed settlement provides for both monetary and injunctive relief. The agreement indicates that the defendant will pay $24 million as a fund, which includes payments to plaintiffs and class members, administrative costs and attorney's fees and expenses. The defendant also agreed to start a hotline for agents to report bias, change its hiring procedures, and keep detailed records on promotion factors as well as complaints alleging race discrimination.
Fairness hearing will be held on April 13, 2017 for the court to determine the proposed settlement, attorney's fees and costs and the final judgment for this case. Jordan Rossen - 09/05/2010
Erin Pamukcu - 01/31/2016
Susie Choi - 03/10/2017