U.S. v. City of Hialeah, No. 94-5083.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCarnes
Citation140 F.3d 968
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee, v. CITY OF HIALEAH, Raul L. Martinez, Mayor (in his official capacity), Hialeah Personnel Board, et al., Defendants-Appellees, Rafael Suau, Defendant-Appellee, Cross-Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 94-5083.
Decision Date07 May 1998
140 F.3d 968
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee,
v.
CITY OF HIALEAH, Raul L. Martinez, Mayor (in his official capacity), Hialeah Personnel Board, et al., Defendants-Appellees,
Rafael Suau, Defendant-Appellee, Cross-Appellant.
No. 94-5083.
United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
May 7, 1998.

[140 F.3d 970]

Michelle Aronowitz, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Div., Washington, DC, for United States.

Robert D. Klausner, Hollywood, FL, for Raul Suau and others.

Robert A. Sugarman, Noah Warman, Coral Gables, FL, Alejandro Vilarello, City Atty., Hialeah, FL, Donald D. Slesnick, Miami, FL, for International Association of Firefighters.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

[140 F.3d 971]

Before CARNES, Circuit Judge, and KRAVITCH and REAVLEY*, Senior Circuit Judges.

CARNES, Circuit Judge:


The United States appeals the district court's refusal to approve part of a consent decree it negotiated with the City of Hialeah, Florida. The underlying lawsuit claims that the City discriminated against blacks in hiring firefighters and police officers in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Other parts of the consent decree have been approved and entered, and they are not in question. One such part requires the City to hire as police officers and firefighters thirty blacks from a pool of prior applicants who were qualified but had been denied employment. The part of the decree the district court refused to enter would have granted retroactive competitive seniority to those thirty new black employees.

The district court, while finding that the United States had established a prima facie case of discrimination, refused to approve the retroactive seniority remedy part of the proposed decree because of objections from the police and fire unions, and from a group of individual police officers including Rafael Suau (the "Suau objectors"). The court found that the retroactive seniority provision in the decree would violate contractual seniority rights of the incumbent employees, rights guaranteed to them in the unions' collective bargaining agreements with the City. It therefore refused to enter that part of the proposed consent decree over the objections of those whose legally enforceable seniority rights would be adversely affected.

The United States contends that the district court erred in refusing to enter the part of the decree granting the new black employees retroactive seniority rights. The Suau objectors' cross-appeal, contends that the district court erred in finding that the United States had made out a prima facie case of discrimination. We agree with the district court that the retroactive seniority part of the proposed consent decree would have diminished the seniority rights of incumbent employees, which are legally enforceable rights guaranteed to them by their collective bargaining agreements. Accordingly, we hold that the district court properly refused to approve that part of the proposed decree absent either the consent of the unions and the individual objectors, or a finding that the provision was necessary and appropriate to remedy discrimination proven during a trial at which all affected parties had an opportunity to participate. In light of that holding, we also conclude that the cross-appeal is moot.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In February 1992, the Department of Justice began an investigation into the hiring practices of the police and fire departments of the City of Hialeah, Florida. As of August 1992, the Hialeah workforce was approximately 17% black, but only 2% of Hialeah police officers and 1% of Hialeah firefighters were black. Only 25.2% of black applicants passed the entry-level police examination, while whites had a 61.9% passing rate. Furthermore, only 67.2% of black applicants passed the entry-level exam for the fire department, while 95.9% of white applicants passed that examination.

In May 1993, the Department of Justice told the City that its hiring practices violated Title VII. Specifically, the Department claimed that the number of blacks in the police and fire departments did not adequately reflect their presence in the workforce. The Department also contended that the City's entry-level examinations for these positions had an adverse impact on blacks and were not consistent with business necessity.

Between May 1993 and June 1994, the City and the Department of Justice negotiated a settlement agreement. No representatives of either the police or fire unions were included in any part of these negotiations. Under the terms of the settlement agreement,

140 F.3d 972

the City, while not admitting to any Title VII violations, agreed to: (1) establish a recruitment program aimed at increasing the number of black police and firefighters; (2) develop written entry-level examinations that are consistent with business necessity or that do not adversely impact blacks; and (3) provide individual relief to black applicants who had been denied positions in the past solely because of their test scores.

That individual relief was to be composed of three components: (1) a monetary settlement of $450,000 to be distributed among eligible claimants as back pay; (2) a commitment to provide priority employment in each department to fifteen blacks who had been denied employment solely because of test scores, meaning that each department would hire its next fifteen employees from the class of eligible claimants; and (3) each claimant hired under the priority employment provision would receive remedial retroactive seniority dating from six months after his or her original application for employment. The settlement agreement terms were incorporated into a proposed consent decree.

After the Department of Justice and the City completed their settlement discussions, the Department filed, on behalf of the United States, a Title VII complaint against the City on June 7, 1994. On the same day, the City and the Department filed a joint motion requesting that the district court approve the proposed settlement agreement and enter the consent decree.

On June 29, 1994, the district court granted a motion by the United States to join as defendants the Dade County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the Hialeah Association of Firefighters, Local 1102 of the International Association of Firefighters, AFL-CIO (Local 1102). Those unions are the authorized collective bargaining units for Hialeah police officers and firefighters. The Department of Justice contended that the joinder of those two unions was necessary to insure that the relief provisions of the settlement agreement could be fully implemented. Neither union, however, had been allowed to participate in the formulation of the settlement agreement that the parties asked the district court to impose. Attorneys for Local 1102 had expressed interest in taking part in the negotiations two weeks before the Department of Justice filed its complaint; the Department, however, never invited either union to participate.

On August 11, 1994, the district court held a fairness hearing, at which time it allowed Raul Suau and approximately 200 other individual police officers to intervene. At the fairness hearing, the district court did not allow the Suau objectors to develop evidence that they claimed would contradict the statistical evidence that the Department of Justice used to build its prima facie case. Nor did the district court allow the Suau objectors to cross-examine the government's statistical expert. However, the district court did allow the unions and the Suau objectors to present nonevidentiary objections to the provision granting retroactive competitive seniority to blacks hired pursuant to the settlement agreement. "Competitive seniority" determines the allocation of benefits for which employees must compete with one another, such as shift assignments, promotions, and transfers. In contrast, "benefit seniority" determines benefits such as vacation time, compensation levels, and pension benefits that depend solely on that employee's longevity. The unions and the Suau objectors had no quarrel with the benefit seniority provisions, which did not adversely affect them. They did object, however, to granting the new hires retroactive competitive seniority, which they contend violates the rights of incumbent police and firefighters under their collective bargaining agreements with the City.

In an order dated August 16, 1994, the district court found that the United States had established a prima facie case of discrimination in the City's hiring practices for the police and fire departments. The court also concluded that the proposed decree was narrowly tailored to remedy that past discrimination. Notwithstanding those findings, the court refused to approve the consent decree. The court explained that affording competitive seniority benefits to those hired under the settlement agreement would violate the contractual rights of firefighters and police already working for the City, and it would

140 F.3d 973

have an "unfair, adverse impact" on current police and fire department employees. The district court urged all of the parties to negotiate a workable substitute remedy that avoided the problems of the proposed agreement while allowing for immediate relief. The United States filed a notice of interlocutory appeal on October 13, 1994, and the Suau objectors filed a notice of cross-appeal shortly thereafter.

On December 9, 1994, the district court approved a partial settlement agreement and consent decree that resulted from the negotiations of all of the parties involved in this case. That decree, which is not being appealed, is materially identical to the proposed consent decree that the district court refused to approve earlier, in all but one respect: it leaves for litigation the question of whether...

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48 practice notes
  • Reed v. United Teachers L.A., No. B230817.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 10, 2012
    ...(1921) 185 Cal. 361, 366, 197 P. 77.) That trend is amplified by lower federal decisions. In U.S. v. City of Hialeah (11th Cir.1998) 140 F.3d 968, 983( Hialeah ), the United States negotiated a consent decree with a city to remedy alleged racial discrimination in the hiring of firefighters ......
  • Reed v. United Teachers Los Angeles, No. B230817.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 24, 2012
    ...(1921) 185 Cal. 361, 366, 197 P. 77.) That trend is amplified by lower federal decisions. In U.S. v. City of Hialeah (11th Cir.1998) 140 F.3d 968, 983( Hialeah ), the United States negotiated a consent decree with a city to remedy alleged racial discrimination in the hiring of firefighters ......
  • Mamma Mia's Trattoria, Inc. v. Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., No. 13–12798.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 30, 2014
    ...somewhat gingerly lest a floodgate be opened that brings into the exception many pretrial orders.”); United States v. City of Hialeah, 140 F.3d 968, 973 (11th Cir.1998) ( “Congress did not intend for the injunction exception to open the floodgates to piecemeal appeals.”). We may review an o......
  • Mamma Mia's Trattoria, Inc. v. Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., No. 13–12798.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 30, 2014
    ...somewhat gingerly lest a floodgate be opened that brings into the exception many pretrial orders.”); United States v. City of Hialeah, 140 F.3d 968, 973 (11th Cir.1998) ( “Congress did not intend for the injunction exception to open the floodgates to piecemeal appeals.”). We may review an o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
48 cases
  • Reed v. United Teachers L.A., No. B230817.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 10, 2012
    ...(1921) 185 Cal. 361, 366, 197 P. 77.) That trend is amplified by lower federal decisions. In U.S. v. City of Hialeah (11th Cir.1998) 140 F.3d 968, 983( Hialeah ), the United States negotiated a consent decree with a city to remedy alleged racial discrimination in the hiring of firefighters ......
  • Reed v. United Teachers Los Angeles, No. B230817.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 24, 2012
    ...(1921) 185 Cal. 361, 366, 197 P. 77.) That trend is amplified by lower federal decisions. In U.S. v. City of Hialeah (11th Cir.1998) 140 F.3d 968, 983( Hialeah ), the United States negotiated a consent decree with a city to remedy alleged racial discrimination in the hiring of firefighters ......
  • Mamma Mia's Trattoria, Inc. v. Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., No. 13–12798.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 30, 2014
    ...somewhat gingerly lest a floodgate be opened that brings into the exception many pretrial orders.”); United States v. City of Hialeah, 140 F.3d 968, 973 (11th Cir.1998) ( “Congress did not intend for the injunction exception to open the floodgates to piecemeal appeals.”). We may review an o......
  • Mamma Mia's Trattoria, Inc. v. Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., No. 13–12798.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 30, 2014
    ...somewhat gingerly lest a floodgate be opened that brings into the exception many pretrial orders.”); United States v. City of Hialeah, 140 F.3d 968, 973 (11th Cir.1998) ( “Congress did not intend for the injunction exception to open the floodgates to piecemeal appeals.”). We may review an o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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