The Secret Service Department, the agency known mostly for protecting the U.S. President, has settled a class-action lawsuit over their practice of racial discrimination. The settlement that was reached will pay the plaintiffs in the case a whooping $24 million. All together, there were 100 Black agents who took part in the lawsuit alleging they were passed over for promotions that went to less qualified white agents.
The lead plaintiff in the case who brought the original lawsuit against the Secret Service was Ray Moore. As an agent who was assigned to protect President Bill Clinton, Mr. Moore said he made bids for job promotions within the department well over 200 times and was passed over in favor of white agents each time. Some of the white agents that received promotions were directly trained by Mr. Moore before they were promoted to jobs he was denied. Another plaintiff in the case stated he was passed over for promotions more than 160 times and those promotions went to white agents as well.
The 8 Black agents who took part in the initial lawsuit that was filed in 2000, will each receive lump sum payouts of $300,000 or more. As part of the settlement, the Secret Service did not have to admit any wrongdoing but did agree to change its promotion criteria. The agency will now consider several candidates for each position that is up for bid and will keep records of factors that were considered in the promotion process.
The Black agents who took part in the class-action lawsuit said they were regularly subjected to racist jokes and the use of the word ‘nigger’ by their white supervisors. The agents said they were told not to complain or report what was taking place in the agency because they would be jeopardizing their careers.
Two of the judges overseeing this case said the Secret Service agency routinely refused to provide relevant documents that would bolster the Black agents claims. The agency also went so far as to destroy damning evidence that showed the discriminatory promotion process within the department.
In settling the case, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who’s department oversees the Secret Service agency, said “it’s simply the right thing to do. I am pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us. Had the matter gone to trial, it would have required that we re-live things long past, just at a time when the Secret Service is on the mend.”