Secret Service settles racial discrimination case with $24 million payment

Jeh Johnson is the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for overseeing the Secret Service. He responded to news of the settlement Wednesday.

Story highlights

  • DHS secretary 'pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us'
  • Secret Service: 'agreement explicitly states that the U.S. Secret Service denies any and all liability'

(CNN)The Secret Service has agreed pay $24 million to settle a racial discrimination case brought on by eight African-American Secret Service agents who alleged that the federal agency denied them job opportunities because of their race, according to court documents.

The decade-long case highlighted specific instances dating back to 1995 claiming that each of the African-American agents were not selected for specific promotions, assignments, positions and career enhancing opportunities they were qualified for but were given to white agents. Testimonies reveal that the agents each bid for up to 230 positions within the agency before being promoted.
One of the agents explained that she was "passed over for promotion in favor or a white (male) agent who had previously been transferred, as a result of sexually harassing her."
Desmond Hogan, co-lead lawyer representing the agents said that the settlement "means that black Secret Service Agents will not be constrained by the glass ceiling that held back so many so many for so long when it came time to fill the leadership positions at the Secret Service."
The initial lawsuit was filed in 2000 under the administration of former president Bill Clinton.
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security which presides over the Secret Service, said in a statement that he is "pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us. ... This settlement is also, simply, the right thing to do."
"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. Under Joe Clancy's leadership, the Secret Service has turned the corner, and today's settlement is part of that," Johnson said in the statement.
Cathy Milhoan, Communications Director for the Secret Service, explained that "the agreement explicitly states that the U.S. Secret Service denies any and all liability or damages to anyone with respect to the alleged facts or causes of action asserted in the litigation."
"The Secret Service recognizes that having a diverse cohort of supervisors makes the agency stronger and better equipped to successfully accomplish our mission. This settlement demonstrates and reaffirms our commitment to continually enhance our promotion system," Milhoan said in a statement.
The Secret Service admits to "no wrongdoings or institutional bias," according to an email sent to agency employees.