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Secret Service settles racial bias suit for $24 million

The U.S. Secret Service agreed to pay $24 million to settle a class action lawsuit from 2000 which alleged racial bias in promotion of agents.

The settlement was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington.

The case involved more than 100 African-American Secret Service agents who repeatedly applied for promotions from 1995 to 2005 and were turned down in favor of white agents. The plaintiffs said the white agents often had less experience and lower performance ratings than African-American applicants. The lead plaintiff and member of President Bill Clinton’s security detail, Ray Moore, said in court documents that he bid for promotions more than 180 times and was overlooked, adding he trained several of the white agents who were given promotions.

Eight of the 10 original plaintiffs could receive up to $300,000 each under the terms of the settlement. The settlement ends more than 16 years of litigation, although the terms of the agreement stipulate the Secret Service is not obligated to admit wrongdoing.

The settlement talks were driven largely by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, whose agency includes the Secret Service. The settlement comes at the end of an eight-year period in which the Secret Service’s primary job has been to protect the United States’ first African-American president; it also follows a period in which the Secret Service changed its senior management structure and endured several embarrassing incidents regarding its agents.

“I am pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us,” said Johnson. “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.”


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