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Latino Officers Association City of New York v. City of New York

October 26, 2007

LATINO OFFICERS ASSOCIATION CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lewis A. Kaplan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This dispute arises out of an employment discrimination class action. By judgment and order dated September 15, 2004, I approved a settlement that, inter alia, incorporated the terms of the settlement agreement ("Agreement") and dismissed with prejudice the individual and class claims of all parties who did not opt out. Pursuant to the Agreement, this Court retained jurisdiction for twenty-seven months. Plaintiffs now move this Court to hold defendants in contempt for alleged failure to comply with the Agreement and to compel compliance with the judgment.

Facts

This action was commenced in September 1999. On August 6, 2002, this Court certified a class consisting of all Latino and African-American individuals who had been, were, or would be employed by the NYPD as uniformed officers, including civilians who perform the same functions as uniformed officers, who had been or would be subjected to discrimination in the form of a hostile work environment, disparate disciplinary treatment, and retaliation for the exercise of their rights. The Court designated the Latino Officers Association, Reuben Malave, Thaddeus Gamory, Charles Castro, Adam Alvarez, Louis Vega, Michael Padilla, Hector Ariza, Manuel Gomez, Christopher Castro, Wilfred Maldonado, Clifford Muniz, Manuel Nunez, Carlos Jimenez, Jose Mercedes, Daniel Figueroa, III, Hilda Susu, Anthony Miranda, Manuel Delgado, Parnell Peterson, Fernando Sanchez, and Miram Monserrate as class representatives.*fn1 Subsequently, on December 18, 2003, the parties, with the assistance of Court-appointed Special Masters Kenneth Feinberg and Peter Woodin, signed a Stipulation and Order memorializing a negotiated settlement. On September 15, 2004, I entered a judgment and order approving the Agreement and incorporating all of its terms.*fn2 The Agreement provided, inter alia, that the New York City Police Department ("NYPD") would establish a "Disciplinary Review Unit" ("DRU") to track and analyze whether minority members of the NYPD were being treated in a discriminatory manner when disciplined,*fn3 establish an "Advisory Committee" to address employment discrimination and retaliation concerns,*fn4 develop a "Know Your Rights" guide to the NYPD discipline system,*fn5 and enhance existing databases and create new databases to capture, and report to plaintiffs on a specified schedule, data thought to be relevant to analyzing whether or not discrimination was continuing in the NYPD discipline system.*fn6

It provided also that this Court would retain jurisdiction for a period of twenty-seven months after October 18, 2004, the effective date ("Effective Date").*fn7

Plaintiffs allege that defendants have failed to comply with the Agreement by failing to (1) establish the DRU or the Advisory Committee, (2) incorporate plaintiffs' suggestions into the Know Your Rights Guide (the "Guide"), and (3) provide the required statistical data in a timely and complete fashion. Plaintiffs allege also that discrimination has continued in the NYPD discipline system and that certain class representatives have been the subject of retaliation.

A. Disciplinary Review Unit

Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Agreement required that the NYPD "maintain within the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity ("OEEO") a Disciplinary Review Unit ("DRU") headed by an Assistant Commissioner and currently staffed by a Lieutenant, a Detective and an Associate Staff Analyst."*fn8 The DRU's primary tasks are to "review and analyze the NYPD's disciplinary process regarding employment discrimination and retaliation," "track and analyze whether African American and Latino/Hispanic members . . . are being investigated, charged, or penalized in a discriminatory manner," and monitor compliance with the Agreement.*fn9

B. Advisory Committee

Paragraphs 9 through 11 of the Agreement required that the NYPD maintain an Advisory Committee ("Committee") "to address employment discrimination and retaliation concerns." Representatives from organizations officially recognized by the NYPD are invited to attend Committee meetings, which must be held at least quarterly. Any Committee member may request that items be placed on meeting agendas and may meet with the Deputy Commissioner of the OEEO to raise any issues and concerns.*fn10

C. The "Know Your Rights" Guide to the Discipline System

Paragraph 20 of the Agreement required that the NYPD "develop a 'Know Your Rights' Guide to the NYPD Disciplinary Process as soon as practicable" and distribute that Guide to all members of the NYPD. In developing the Guide, the NYPD agreed to "obtain recommendations from the Latino Officers Association and plaintiffs' counsel prior to finalization."*fn11

Defendants submitted a draft of the Guide to plaintiffs on March 7, 2006, received comments and suggestions back on May 12, and notified plaintiffs on May 23, 2006 of the extent to which those recommendations were incorporated or rejected.*fn12

D. Capturing and Reporting Data on the NYPD Discipline System

The Agreement required the NYPD either to enhance or implement several databases that would enable it to collect data on the discipline system. Paragraph 21 required the NYPD to maintain two fields in its OEEO database, one indicating "the OEEO's recommended finding with respect to each individual complaint" and the other "whether ...


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