By Brendan O'Brien
Feb 27 (Reuters) - A federal judge has certified a class of
black U.S. Secret Service agents who have accused the Department
of Homeland Security of racial discrimination over promotions.
Judge Richard Roberts of the U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia on Monday ruled the agents have met the
requirements for class certification in their suit against the
department, which oversees the Secret Service.
The lawsuit, brought by eight current and former agents on
behalf of African-American agents who were denied promotion,
accuses the department under Homeland Security Secretary Janet
Napolitano of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The plaintiffs claim the Secret Service Special Agent Merit
Promotion Program, an evaluation system used to determine
promotions, had been skewed against African-Americans from 1995
The department did not respond to a request for comment.
In a court filing in January 2012, the department said
African-American secret service agents score similarly in the
evaluation system to non-African-Americans and were selected for
promotion at similar rates.
The department also said that African-American secret
service agents received promotions earlier in their careers than
"This evidence conclusively refutes plaintiffs' overarching
claim that the Secret Service has refused to eliminate racism
from the fabric of its promotion process," it said in the court
In his ruling on Monday, the judge also denied a defense
motion to exclude the testimony of Charles Mann, who testified
during an earlier hearing that the system has a statistically
significant adverse impact on African-American agents.
The plaintiffs, who originally filed suit in May 2000, moved
for class certification three times before but were denied
because they did not meet the required criteria.
Attorneys for the both the plaintiffs and the defendant
could not be reached for comment.
The case is Reginald Moore v. Janet Napolitano, No. 00-953.
For the plaintiffs: John Peter Relman, Megan Cacace and
Jennifer Klar of Relman, Dane & Colfax, and Thomas Widor, Erica
Knievel and Desmond Hogan of Hogan Lovells.
For the defendant: Edith Shine, Peter Pfaffenroth and Marina
Utgoff Braswell of the U.S. Attorney's office.
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