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Court of Appeals Upholds Class Certification in Race Discrimination Case Against Secret Service

On August 1, 2014, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held unanimously that race discrimination claims against the U.S. Secret Service may proceed as a class action. Judge Douglas Ginsburg, writing for the appeals court, rejected various attempts by the Secret Service to challenge the District Court’s 2013 opinion granting class certification.

The appeals court ruling means that the case will proceed on behalf of approximately 120 current and former African-American Special Agents who risk their lives to protect federal officials, but encountered a glass ceiling in terms of advancement to the supervisory levels of the Secret Service. For more than a decade, Relman, Dane & Colfax has sought a fair and non-discriminatory promotions system based on merit and to achieve relief for African-American Agents who faced race discrimination. This ruling brings those goals closer to realization.

In prior rulings, the District Court rejected Secret Service attempts to exclude the plaintiffs’ statistical evidence of race discrimination, permitted plaintiffs’ discriminatory promotions claims to reach back more than ten years and repeatedly sanctioned the Secret Service for egregious discovery misconduct.

The litigation team is led by Jennifer Klar, Glenn Schlactus, and Megan Cacace of Relman, Dane & Colfax and E. Desmond Hogan, Cate Stetson, and Erica Knievel Songer of Hogan Lovells US, LLP.

For more information about this case and noteworthy pleadings click here.