District Court Reviews Settlement for Equal Protection and Title VII Violations

The District Court for the Eastern District of New York handed down its first major opinion on CIR’s constitutional and federal civil rights challenges to a settlement agreement between the United States and New York City granting minority and female custodial employees retroactive seniority in job placement and lay-off protection based on alleged discrimination in recruiting and qualification exams.  CIR filed the suit on behalf of several custodians for the New York City school system, who would face costly drops in seniority if the settlement was approved.

The court looked closely at the blanket awards of retroactive seniority that were granted under the city’s settlement agreement with mixed results.  It permitted parts of the settlement agreement to stand, determined that many of the agreement’s grants of retroactive seniority were unlawful under the Equal Protection clause and federal civil rights law, and explained some parties would need to bring further evidence to demonstrate that they were actual victims of discrimination.