The Secret Service has agreed to pay $24 million to settle a two-decade-old case in which more than 100 black agents alleged that the agency fostered a racist culture and routinely promoted white agents over more qualified African Americans, the Washington Post reports. As part of the deal, which is the result of a push in the waning days of the Obama administration, the agency admits to no wrongdoing. The payments to the agents — including lump sums as high as $300,000 each to the original eight plaintiffs — are intended to remedy the sting of the discrimination the agents say they suffered and the job opportunities they lost. “At long last . . . black Secret Service agents will not be constrained by the glass ceiling that held back so many for so long,” said their attorney, Jennifer Klar.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, whose department includes the agency, called the resolution “simply the right thing to do.” He added, “Had the matter gone to trial, it would have required that we re-live things long past, just at a time when the Secret Service is on the mend.” The settlement talks, driven largely by Johnson, carry symbolic power at the end of eight years in which the Secret Service’s primary job was protecting the first black U.S. president. It follows a turbulent period for the agency, which suffered a series of embarrassing miscues in recent years and endured an overhaul of its senior management. The suit was first filed when Bill Clinton was president. Two presidents and four directors had passed the job of resolving the messy legal fight on to their successors.