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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Black workers sue the U.S. Marshals Service


WASHINGTON- Black employees of the U.S. Marshals Service filed a racial discrimination lawsuit yesterday, saying they have been denied promotions by managers who belittled them as lazy.

The suit in U.S. District Court seeks broad changes in job practices at a law enforcement agency that has grappled with race bias accusations dating back to the 1990s. It cast the agency as a "good old boys network" that exploited loopholes to groom whites for leadership positions while reprimanding blacks for "trivial mistakes."

Seeking to sue on behalf of 200 current or former black employees, the challenge alleges violations of federal civil rights laws. The suit is asking for damages of at least $300 million for lost back pay and harm suffered in a "hostile work environment."

The allegations also come as black agents at the Secret Service, which protects presidents, their family members and other dignitaries, are making similar charges of denied promotions because of their race.

"This is the way the agency treats African-American deputies all over the country," said deputy Marshal David Grogan, a 20-year employee. Both Grogan and James Brooks, a chief deputy marshal, are suing in the case. Their complaint charges the Marshals Service:

•Systematically denied special assignments and training to blacks, despite their seniority and qualifications.

•Canceled vacant higher-ranking job positions when white applicants didn't qualify under the agency's merit ranking system.

•Failed to provide timely notice of job openings to many black employees.
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