The Secret Service has agreed to pay out $24 million to dozens of black agents who alleged that the organization fostered a racist culture.
According to the more than 100 black agents involved in the decades-long case, the service went out of its way to promote white agents instead of black agents, The Washington Post reports.
While the Secret Service is paying out $24 million as part of the settlement, it is not admitting any wrongdoing.
The funds will not be evenly distributed to all of the agents involved in the case. Rather, the original eight plaintiffs will receive up to $300,000 each. These plaintiffs said that from 1995 to 2005, they were passed over for promotions in favor of white agents, who had far less experience and lower ratings.
Moreover, agents say that whites and supervisors used derogatory, racist language directed not only at blacks, but also at foreign leaders. In 2013, the case became a class action suit.
The primary plaintiff in the case Ray Moore told NPR in 2007 that he put in the paperwork for a promotion 180 times between 1999 and 2002, but was rejected, only for him to watch a white agent, whom he trained, get that same promotion. Still, Moore stuck around at the service because he said he loves his employer.
“But at the same time, you know, I will let people know that the service has some legacy problems, and that is the institutional racism with the promotional and evaluation system,” Moore said. “There are problems with that system, and that needs to be fixed.”
The Obama administration signaled loudly that this is the outcome it wanted. Not only that, but Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson even asked his staff to re-examine how to wind down the case to a resolution in 2016.
“I am pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us,” Johnson said. “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.”
A court still has to assent to the settlement.
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