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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

Federal Court Conditionally Approves Settlement in Long-Running Employment Discrimination Lawsuit on Behalf of NYC School Custodians

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Court Approval Means African-American and Latino Custodians
Will Keep Job Benefits

A federal district court preliminarily approved a settlement to resolve a long-running lawsuit that challenged the New York City Board of Education’s discriminatory policies for hiring public school custodians.  The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) represents ten African-American and Latino custodians who were denied permanent jobs and, instead, relegated to provisional positions, in which they did the work of permanent custodians but without many of the job benefits.

As part of the settlement, LDF’s clients – along with 49 other individuals who were improperly denied permanent positions because of their race, sex, or national origin – will keep the key job benefits they received under an earlier settlement in this case between the Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  The agreement also establishes a claims process to provide compensation for incumbent custodians if they lose a school assignment to any of the 59 individuals.

In April 2014, the court will hold a hearing to decide whether to grant final approval for the settlement.

Read the notice of proposed class action settlement .

Background on United States v. New York City Board of Education

In 1996, DOJ filed a complaint against the Board of Education alleging that African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and women were disproportionately excluded by the Board’s hiring process for permanent school custodian positions, with the result that most could only obtain provisional employment.  Provisional custodians do the same work as permanent custodians and are similarly qualified, but they lack many of the job benefits that permanent custodians enjoy.  For instance, they can be fired at any time and have no ability to obtain transfers and promotions.

The Board of Education settled with DOJ in 1999.  The Board agreed to give permanent positions with retroactive seniority to minority and female provisional custodians negatively affected by its hiring practices.  After a group of incumbent custodians challenged the lawfulness of the settlement, DOJ proposed revisions that would have reduced the remedies it had previously negotiated.  LDF intervened on behalf of African-American and Latino custodians whose permanent positions and seniority were at risk.

After many years of litigation, all of the parties have come together to resolve this long-running dispute and to move forward to promote equal opportunity in the workplace.  The settlement is subject to final approval by the court.

Read the full settlement agreement.