Justice Department Announces Two Million Dollar Settlement of Race Discrimination Lawsuit Against Baltimore County, Maryland

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement, through a court-supervised settlement agreement, with Baltimore County, Maryland, resolving the United States’ claims that the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD) discriminated against African American applicants for employment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

“This country’s communities are better protected and better served when police departments, like the one in Baltimore County, recruit and select qualified officers using job-related criteria,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “When police departments fail to do so, and instead disproportionately screen out members of protected classes, they violate federal law. This settlement agreement requires the Baltimore County Police Department to develop and implement hiring criteria that do not discriminate on the basis of race and further reflects the Civil Rights Division’s continued commitment to the eradication of race discrimination in hiring through the vigorous enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, subject to court approval, Baltimore County will pay $2,000,000 in back pay to eligible African Americans who were previously denied employment because of the employment tests challenged by the United States. The BCPD also must hire up to twenty of these previous applicants as entry-level police officers or cadets after the applicants demonstrate that they meet BCPD’s current qualifications for hire and successfully complete the county’s other selection requirements. In addition to back pay and priority hiring, the settlement agreement requires the county to develop a new hiring examination that is lawful under Title VII.

In a joint filing today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the Justice Department and Baltimore County moved for a court order provisionally approving the terms of the settlement agreement. The motion also asks the court to schedule a fairness hearing to provide an opportunity for individuals potentially affected by the proposed agreement to provide comments on the terms of the settlement.

The proposed settlement, once approved by the District Court, will resolve the United States’ complaint filed on Aug. 27, 2019. The suit alleged that the county, through the Baltimore County Police Department, violated Title VII since Jan. 1, 2013, by making hiring decisions for entry-level police officer and cadet positions based on the results of hiring examinations that were not job-related and that disproportionately excluded African American applicants. 

The case was brought by Trial Attorneys Kathleen Lawrence and Ejaz Baluch Jr. of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section. The full and fair enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the jurisdiction of the Employment Litigation Section is available on its websites at www.justice.gov/crt/ and https://www.justice.gov/crt/employment-litigation-section

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Author: November 4, 2020

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