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For $400,000, City to Settle With the 16 Water Utilities Workers Who Claimed Discrimination

In mid-December, 16 Dallas Water Utilities workers sued the city in federal court, claiming City Hall engages in a "pattern and practice of disproportionate enforcement of policies with regard to their minority employees." They also alleged the city "has engaged in blatant segregation amongst its workforce whereby teams of employees are assembled along racial lines," and pointed to myriad instances of "racially motivated threats, intimidation and harassment including" outlined in detail in the initial complaint that follows.

Shortly after the suit was filed, the city issued a lengthy denial, which said, in part: "The City has not had an opportunity to review all of the allegations. However, many of the allegations concern specific incidents that are several years old, about which the City took corrective measures regarding these situations at the time the allegations were first reported."

On February 25, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that read, in part:

Minority employees of the City of Dallas have been subjected to discrimination and harassment for a long period of time. This discrimination and harassment manifested itself through the direct manner in which City management and co-workers treated Plaintiffs, and by the systemic atmosphere of bigotry that surrounded them at work.

For years the "S.S. Redneck" was on City of Dallas property. The boat which was labeled with this name was covered in racial epithets and confederate flags. When employees complained about the "S.S. Redneck" they were ignored or told to leave it alone.

From the city's response, filed in court on March 11:

Defendant admits that there was a boat at the Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant with "SS Redneck" painted on the side of the boat. Defendant further admits that in October 2007 the writing was reported and investigated by Human Resources and that "SS Redneck" was painted over.

On March 22, a trial date was set: August 22, 2011. Since then, according to PACER, there's been no action -- at least, not at the courthouse. But according to the council's meeting addendum posted Friday evening, the city has agreed to settle the suit, splitting $400,000 amongst the 13 plaintiffs and the attorney handling the case. The agenda also says they will receive "equitable adjustment of salaries." The council was briefed on the settlement behind closed doors last Wednesday.

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