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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Justice Department Settles Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Against City of Chicago Police Department

The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement agreement with the city of Chicago to resolve allegations that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) discriminated against entry-level police officer applicants on the basis of national origin, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a joint motion filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Justice Department and the city requested that the court enter a provisional order that sets forth the terms of the settlement agreement, including more than $2 million in back pay, a number of priority hires and pension benefits.  The motion also asks the court to schedule a fairness hearing, an opportunity provided by Title VII for those affected by the proposed agreement to comment on the settlement.

The proposed settlement, once approved by the district court, will resolve the complaint filed on Feb. 5, 2016.  In that complaint, the Justice Department alleged that during its 2006 hiring cycle, the city used a 10-year continuous U.S. residency requirement to screen entry-level police officer applicants.  The department further alleged that the residency requirement disproportionately removed applicants born outside of the United States from consideration in the hiring process and was not related to the job.  Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin or religion, whether the discrimination is intentional or involves the use of employment practices that have a disparate impact and are not job related and consistent with business necessity.  This settlement is distinct from the department’s investigation into allegations concerning the Chicago Police Department’s methods of policing and its practices with respect to the use of force; that investigation remains ongoing.

“When brave men and women aspire to serve their communities as police officers, hiring procedures must evaluate the skills they need on the job, not where they come from or what they look like,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “This agreement avoids costly litigation, provides relief for job applicants who suffered from discrimination and helps the Chicago Police Department refocus on fair hiring practices going forward.”

“Removing unlawful barriers to employment continues to be a top priority of the EEOC,” said Director Julianne Bowman of the EEOC’s Chicago District.  “We are pleased that the successful collaboration between the Justice Department and the EEOC removed one such barrier and produced positive results for those who were unjustly denied police officer positions in the Chicago Police Department.”

Chicago no longer uses the 10-year continuous U.S. residency requirement challenged by the department.  In addition to back pay and priority hiring relief for some applicants, the settlement agreement would require the city to evaluate whether its current five-year continuous U.S. residency requirement complies with Title VII and to provide Title VII compliance training to personnel involved in Chicago Police Department hiring.  All priority hires must meet the city’s lawful selection criteria for qualified entry level police officers.

The case was brought by Trial Attorneys Valerie Meyer, Kathleen Lawrence and Carol Wong of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section.  Enforcement of federal employment discrimination laws is a top priority for the Justice Department.  Additional information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available on the Civil Rights Division’s website at www.justice.gov/crt.

Chicago Proposed Consent Judgment

Civil Rights
Updated February 16, 2016