WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 11, 2014) — On July 1st, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the federal suit in Houser et al. v. Pritzker, Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce can go forward as a class action case.
The court certified the proposed class of African American applicants for positions as enumerators in the 2010 Census. Although the court did not grant certification for the Latino class, they gave the plaintiffs the opportunity to find a suitable Latino class representative who meets the criteria the court identified.
The complaint in this case challenges the hiring practices of the United States Census Bureau that have adversely impacted a class of African American and Latino applicants estimated at about 450,000. This specific practice of the U.S. Census Bureau actively violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Census Bureau’s process for screening applicants for temporary jobs for the Census is racially discriminatory because of their global use of arrest records to erect barriers to hundreds of thousands of applicants who sought positions as Census enumerators. Government records show that more than 70 million people in the U.S. have been arrested, but more than 35 percent of all arrests nationwide never lead to prosecutions or convictions. About 40 percent of the applicants impacted were African American, compared to about 20 percent of other applicants.
“The Lawyers’ Committee is thrilled that the court has decided to certify this class and as this case proceeds we will, with our partners, continue to fight on behalf of our clients to ensure that the U.S. Census Bureau rectifies their discriminatory hiring practices and adequately addresses those that were impacted,” said Jon Greenbaum, Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee.
The Lawyers’ Committee has played a key role in the analysis and preparation for deposition of expert witnesses offered by the government in its opposition to the Motion for Class Certification the Plaintiffs filed in June. The plaintiffs are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee, Lawyers’ Committee Board Member Adam Klein, as well as Lewis M. Steel, Rachel M. Bien, Justin M. Swartz, Ossai Miazad, and Melissa Pierre-Louis of Outten and Golden LLP.
In addition, a coalition of organizations supporting the lawsuit as co-counsel includes: the Center for Constitutional Rights; Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; Community Service Society, of New York; Indian Legal Resource Center, of Helena, Mont.; LatinoJustice PRLDEF, of New York; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, of Washington, D.C.; and Public Citizen Litigation Group, of Washington, D.C.
“The Federal District Court’s decision to grant class action is an important victory for our clients, as well as for the Lawyers’ Committee. As ardent advocates of victims of hiring discrimination and other discrimination in the workplace, we applaud this ruling as a crucial step in the right direction”, said Barbara R. Arnwine, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. It celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2013 with a goal of “Moving America Toward Justice.” www.lawyerscommittee.org