A lengthy lawsuit against the Secret Service for committing racial discrimination against African-American agents is coming to a close, seemingly trial-free. Encompassing more than 100 agents, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service, the lawsuit first began back in 2000 when a handful of agents sued the agency due to claims that “they were routinely and unfairly passed over for promotions while less-qualified white agents rose up the ladder.” The lawsuit also included claims that agents experienced other forms of discrimination, such as racial slurs, unfair assignments, unfair bonuses and hiring practices, and “retaliation against people who spoke up to challenge racial harassment.”
One of the lead plaintiff’s in the case, Ray Moore, spoke out in 2007 and explained to news outlets, such as NPR, that he had “bid for more than 180 promotions between 1999 and 2002.” Instead of winning one of those promotions, he was “assigned to train the white agent who received the promotion he was denied.” Despite the clear discrimination, Moore enjoyed his time working at the Secret Service, and “believed in the mission.”
Moore’s passion for the agency is one big reason why he chose to continue serving while simultaneously “suing his employer.” However, that passion hasn’t made him shy about speaking out about the agency’s problems, like when he said “I will let people know that the service has some legacy problems, and that is the institutional racism with the promotional and evaluation system. There are problems with that system, and that needs to be fixed.”
In addition to drawing attention to a legacy problem and discriminatory practices, the case drew criticism from many, including a judge who “excoriated the Secret Service for making a mockery of the law by refusing to cooperate in the suit” when it was discovered that an inspector with the Secret Service destroyed “evidence relevant to the case.”
Fortunately, with the settlement announcement, many people are pleased to see an end to a long, slow moving case. Even Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he was “pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us.” Even more people are pleased that the case won’t be going to trial, because it would have required many people to “re-live things long past, just at a time when the Secret Service is on the mend.”
Once the settlement is approved by a court, the Secret Service will be expected to pay $24 million, “including lump sum payments as high as $300,000 per agent.” However, the agency is not required to admit any wrongdoing.