May 24, 2002

Black and Hispanic Special Agents Join Forces to Seek Consolidation of Class Actions Against Department of Treasury

WASHINGTON — The Black Special Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (“ATF”), who have a pending contempt proceeding against Treasury Secretary O’Neill, the Black Special Agents of the Secret Service and Hispanic Special Agents of the U.S. Customs Service, both of which have pending discrimination class actions against the Department of Treasury, joined forces today, seeking to have each of their class actions against Treasury Secretary O’Neill consolidated before a single district judge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Over 1,000 active Special Agents will be affected by this motion.

Counsel for the agents in each of these actions, David J. Shaffer of Shaffer, Rapaport & Schmidt, stated in court papers that all of the cases demonstrate a pattern of discrimination against minorities in Treasury law enforcement. Shaffer said that the Department of Treasury has known of these problems since the mid-1970’s and that one federal judge has already found these problems to exist. Secretary O’Neill has taken no effective action to remedy these problems, the agents allege.

“These cases present common issues of law and fact and involve the same Treasury officials,” said Shaffer, and “it would serve judicial economy and the public interest to have them proceed in a coordinated fashion. The public must know whether the Treasury officials have knowingly permitted such practices to continue for almost three decades,” he said. He further stated that “this is the most efficient way to ensure that the public’s interest in the elimination of discrimination in law enforcement at Treasury is realized.”

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