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February 26, 2013

Secret Service bias lawsuit gets class-action OK

Secret Service agents who claim racial #discrimination have gotten a huge boost, with a federal judge's decision to certify their lawsuit as a class action.

In a potent 54-page decision dated Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts certified the class-action that will now probe whether the Secret Service had "a pattern and practice of engaging in race discrimination in making promotions."

Specifically, the lawsuit will now proceed on behalf of "all current and former African-American Special Agents" who bid for certain promotions between 1995 and either 2004 or 2005, depending on the position. The current and former agents who filed the initial suit, many years ago, include Luther Ivey, Reginald Moore and Yvette Summerour, among others.

This has been an excruciatingly long-running case, first filed in 2000 and subsequently litigated up and down the appellate ladder. Prior attempts to win class-action certification failed; this time, though, the aggrieved Secret Service agents presented some new expert testimony involving statistical analysis or promotion data.

Noted the judge:

"(The expert) further found that for the years 1998 to 2000, the difference between expected African-American promotions in the absence of discrimination, taking as a given the presence of African-Americans on the best qualified list, and actual African-American promotion to GS-14 positions was statistically significant."



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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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