The Social Security Administration may be forced to fund millions of dollars in additional back pay to black male employees who say the agency breached the terms of a 2002 class action discrimination settlement, according to the Federal Times.
In a ruling issued on Dec. 18, Carlton Hadden, the director of the Office of Federal Operations at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, ordered an administrative judge to oversee distribution of back pay to black males working at SSA’s office in Baltimore from April 1, 2003, through Sept. 30, 2005. Hadden said that the agency must “correct any misapplications of its policies for granting performance awards,” and instructed the agency to provide written notification to a compliance officer.
The decision confirmed a ruling from April 2011, which found that SSA had broken the terms of the 2002 settlement of allegations that the agency discriminated against the men regarding promotions, performance assessments and bonuses. Though SSA had paid out $6.4 million as part of the agreement, discrepancies remained in the way that bonuses and quality step increases were distributed, the 2011 ruling found.
In a statement, Michael Kator, the employees’ lawyer, said that the ruling would mean that SSA would be forced to pay a steeper penalty than if they had followed the terms of the original settlement. As many as 2,200 current and former employees would likely be affected, according to the settlement documents.
“While it may ultimately be for the experts to decide, SSA’s liability could well exceed by 10 times the amount of the original settlement,” Kator wrote.
Kia Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Social Security Administration, told the Federal Times that the agency “disagreed with the ruling” and would “defend its position” to the administrative judge, who will determine the final sum the agency owes the employees.