Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DOJ Settles NYC Religious Discrimination Lawsuit

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Justice Department Settles Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against New York City Transit Authority
The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement with the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) to resolve allegations that the NYCTA is engaged in a pattern or practice of religious discrimination.
The Justice Department filed its complaint in September 2004 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.   The complaint alleged that the NYCTA violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by selectively enforcing its uniform headwear policies against employees who are unable to comply for religious reasons and by failing or refusing to reasonably accommodate those employees whose religious practices require an accommodation from the NYCTA’s uniform headwear policies.   Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion.  
According to the Justice Department’s complaint, the NYCTA had not enforced its uniform headwear policies prior to Sept. 11, 2001.   However, beginning in or about March 2002, the NYCTA began to selectively enforce those policies against Muslim and Sikh employees, moving them or threatening to move them out of public contact positions because the employees, consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs, refused to attach NYCTA logos to their khimars and turbans, respectively.  
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, which must still be approved by the court, the NYCTA must:   (1) adopt new uniform headwear policies, which would allow employees working in public contact positions to wear khimars, yarmulkes, turbans, kufis, skullcaps, tams and headscarves without attaching anything to the headwear; (2) implement and distribute a new religious accommodation policy consistent with Title VII’s requirement to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of all employees and prospective workers; and   (3) provide guidance to and ensure that training is completed by the NYCTA personnel responsible for implementing the agency’s new religious accommodation policy and procedure.  Additionally, the NYCTA will pay $184,500, divided among eight current and former NYCTA employees who were denied religious accommodations related to the NYCTA’s prior uniform headwear policies.
“This settlement agreement sends a clear message that the Department of Justice will not tolerate religious discrimination,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “I am pleased that the NYCTA has agreed to end its discriminatory practices that for years have forced employees to choose between practicing their religion and maintaining their jobs.”
The continued enforcement of Title VII has been and remains a priority for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.   Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available at its website at

So, Mitt Romney says to 'shoot, and protect...families'

CBS News reports that the Mitt Romney campaign experts apparently can't spell -- or write.
His campaign released an iPhone app Tuesday with a slogan that reads, "A Better Amercia."
"The Twitterverse went nuts.
"User Andrew Cove, wrote that "some poor app designer is getting strapped in a cage on the top of a car and driven across country tonight. #amercia""
Copy editing isn't his staff's thing, either, since another release went out from the Romney campaign written like this:
"As president, Mitt will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect their families, homes and property, and he will fight the battle on all fronts to protect and promote the Second Amendment," read the text on the campaign website in the section on the candidate's views about gun rights.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Running For Congress in California: FBI Files On Norman Solomon Because He Supported Martin Luther King, Jr. When He Was 14 Years Old!!

Letter received today from Alan Grayson:

Dear Susan:

I have five children. Sometimes I try to explain to them what it was like to live in America in the Sixties and Seventies. When the federal government listened in on phone conversations of civil rights leaders, and bugged their homes. When the President of the United States and his henchmen plotted to kill a reporter, Jack Anderson. When one major party burglarized the headquarters of the other major party. When the National Guard shot and killed college students. When rioting prisoners were picked off and killed by marksmen with rifle scopes.

There is one candidate for Congress this year who knows all about that. Because the FBI had a file on him. When he was 14 years old.

Norman Solomon is running for Congress in California. He is running in the very blue district now represented by Lynn Woolsey, former head of the House Progressive Caucus. He needs to win the primary election, on June 5.

Show your support for Norman Solomon by clicking here.

Here is how Solomon describes how it came about that the FBI opened a file on him when he was 14:

"I'd heard that some people were protesting at an all-white apartment complex close by, near the D.C. border, named Summit Hills. I was just a kid, but I'd figured out that segregation was wrong. So I picked up a sign, and joined the picket line."

And that, ladies and gentleman, was enough in 1966 to label you a "subversive," and put you under FBI surveillance.

But what's important now is that Norman Solomon showed what he was made of, at the age of 14.

Support someone who doesn't just talk the talk, but someone who walks the walk. Someone who has been walking in picket lines and protest marches for the past 46 years. Someone whom J. Edgar Hoover wouldn't like at all. Someone named Norman Solomon.

A lot of people who have been working in progressive causes for almost half a century are too tired, too burnt out, to run for Congress. But not Norman Solomon. He still has the energy, and the drive, and the conscience, to make a difference in Congress.

But Norman Solomon faces a very tough primary two weeks from tomorrow, and he needs your help. Who should represent San Francisco in Congress, Norman Solomon, or some useless, empty suit? It's up to you.

Let's help a lifelong progressive make it to Congress, where he can do good things for all of us. Click here, and click now.


Alan Grayson

P.S. Almost 2,000 of us rallied to the cause last week, and contributed to our "Fight Back" fund to help us respond to the Chamber of Commerce's $324,000 blitzkrieg of lying attack ads. To those who contributed, thank you. To those who didn't, forgive me for asking, but what are you waiting for? "The time is always right to do what is right."

Friday, May 18, 2012

More DOJ Voting Rights Activity

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Wythe County, Virginia, on Bailout from the Voting Rights Act
The Justice Department announced that it has reached an agreement with Wythe County, Va., that will allow for the county and its three political subdivisions, the Wythe County School District and the towns of Rural Retreat and Wytheville, to bail out from their status as “covered jurisdictions” under the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and thereby exempt these jurisdictions from the preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.   The agreement is in the form of a consent decree filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and must be approved by the court.  

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, certain covered jurisdictions, determined according to Section 4 of the act, are required to seek preclearance for any changes in voting qualifications, standards, practices or procedures from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia or from the U.S. Attorney General, prior to their implementation.   Section 4 of the act provides that a covered jurisdiction may seek to “bail out,” or remove itself from such coverage, and therefore be exempted from the preclearance requirements, by seeking a declaratory judgment before a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.   A bailout judgment can be issued only if the court determines that the jurisdiction meets certain eligibility requirements for bailout contained in the statute, including a 10-year record of nondiscrimination in voting-related actions.   The act also provides that the attorney general can consent to entry of a judgment of bailout only if, based upon investigation, the attorney general is satisfied that the jurisdiction meets the eligibility requirements.

Wythe County filed its bailout action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 3, 2012.   Counsel for the county contacted the attorney general prior to filing the action, indicating that the county was interested in seeking a bailout.   The county provided the Justice Department with substantial information, and the department conducted an investigation to determine the county’s eligibility.   Based on that investigation, the department is satisfied that the county meets the Voting Rights Act’s requirements for bailout.

“After a thorough analysis of the information provided by the county and obtained through the department’s independent investigation, we believe the county has satisfied the bailout requirements,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “The collaboration between the county and department assured the resolution of this matter in a manner envisioned by the drafters of the Voting Rights Act.”

The consent decree details the legal and factual basis for a bailout determination and, if approved by the court, will grant the county’s request.   The court will retain jurisdiction of the action for 10 years and can reopen the action upon the motion of the attorney general or any aggrieved person alleging conduct by the county that would have originally precluded the county from bailing out if it had occurred during the 10-year period preceding entry of the consent decree.  

Information about bailout, the Voting Rights Act, and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at   Complaints may be reported to the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.
Related Material:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Georgia Sheriff and Jailer Facing Civil Rights Charges; DOJ release

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Monday, May 14, 2012
Wilcox County, Georgia, Sheriff, Son and Jailer Face Civil Rights Charges in Superseding Indictment
The Justice Department, along with U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore, Middle District of Georgia, today announced that a grand jury returned a superseding indictment against former Wilcox County Sheriff Stacy Bloodsworth; his son, Austin Bloodsworth; and former Wilcox County Jailer Casey Owens.   The superseding indictment charges the defendants with assaulting three different inmates inside of the Wilcox County Jail on July 23, 2009, thereby violating their civil rights.   As a result of the assaults, one inmate suffered a broken jaw, and two other inmates sustained bruises and scratches.   The indictment also charges the defendants with conspiring to cover up the assaults.   In addition, Stacy Bloodsworth and Austin Bloodsworth were charged with lying to the FBI, while Owens was charged with writing a false report about the incident.  Stacy Bloodsworth was charged with tampering with one of the victims, as well as two witnesses.

In addition to the civil rights and obstruction of justice charges stemming from the assaults that took place on July 23, 2009, the superseding indictment also charges Stacy Bloodsworth with violating the civil rights of individuals on two other occasions.   Former-Sheriff Bloodsworth is charged with assaulting Wilcox County Jail inmate M.A. in July 2009, causing him to suffer a laceration and pain.   It also charges the former sheriff with assaulting N.S. in November 2009, causing him to suffer a concussion, bruising, and pain.

The civil rights charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years for each count, and the conspiracy and false statements charges carry a maximum penalty of up to five years.   Additionally, Stacy Bloodsworth faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for each count of witness tampering, while Owens faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for his writing a false report.

A prior indictment, which was unsealed on Feb. 17, 2012, charged Stacy Bloodsworth, Austin Bloodsworth, Owens and former Wilcox County Jail trustee Willie James Caruthers with civil rights violations in connection with the July 23, 2009, assault of the three inmates; with conspiring to cover up the assaults; and with committing various obstruction of justice offenses.

On April 4, 2012, defendant Caruthers pleaded guilty to acting with several others, including law enforcement officials, to assault an inmate in the Wilcox County Jail on July 23, 2009.  Caruthers also pleaded guilty to conspiring to tamper with a witness in connection with the assault.   During his plea hearing and in his factual basis, Caruthers admitted that he, along with several other individuals, including law enforcement officers, assaulted Wilcox County inmate K.H., causing K.H. to suffer a broken jaw.   Caruthers further admitted that he was present when several individuals, including then-Sheriff Bloodsworth, assaulted inmates K.F. and T.O., causing both of them to sustain bruises, scratches and pain.   Caruthers further admitted that he conspired with several other people, including Stacy Bloodsworth, to cover up the fact that law enforcement officials and others had used excessive force against inmates K.H., K.F. and T.O.  Caruthers acknowledged that the plan of the conspiracy was for the co-conspirators to prepare false reports and submit them to Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office officials, and to make statements consistent with those false reports to anyone inquiring about the excessive use of force incident.  When Caruthers is sentenced, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years on the civil rights violation, and a maximum penalty of up to five years on the conspiracy charge.

On March 5, 2012, former South Central Georgia Drug Task Force Agent Timothy King Jr., 31, pleaded guilty to a bill of information charging him with conspiring to tamper with a witness in connection with the July 23, 2009 assaults of inmates K.H., K.F. and T.O.   During his plea hearing, King admitted that he conspired with several other people, including a law enforcement official, to cover up the fact that law enforcement officials and others had used excessive force against the three inmates.   When King is sentenced, he faces a maximum penalty of up to five years.

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard V. Hogan and Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States Attorney Paul C. McCommon III of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Friday, May 11, 2012

DOJ Settlement: HIV Discrimination

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Friday, May 11, 2012
Health Care Providers Settle with Justice Department Over Complaints of HIV Discrimination
The Justice Department announced that it has reached two settlements today resolving claims that health care providers refused to serve people with HIV in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  
The first complaint was filed by a man with HIV who went to the Mercy Medical Group Midtown Clinic in Sacramento, Calif.   After meeting with the patient and examining him, a podiatrist at the clinic informed the patient of his treatment options.   Although surgery was one of the treatment options, the podiatrist incorrectly told the patient that he could not perform the surgery because of a risk that he would contract HIV from the patient during surgery.   The United States determined that the podiatrist’s actions violated the ADA by denying the patient the full and equal enjoyment of the services offered at the clinic on the basis of his disability.
The second complaint was filed by a man with HIV who went to the Knoxville Chiropractic Clinic North in Knoxville, Tenn., for chiropractic treatment following an automobile accident.   After examining him, the doctor determined that the patient required 24 subsequent appointments to treat his injuries.   On his third visit to the clinic, however, the receptionist informed him that the doctor would not see him because they could not treat people “like him.”   The United States determined that Knoxville Chiropractic Centers had a blanket policy of refusing treatment to persons with HIV in violation of the ADA.
“It is critical that people with disabilities, including HIV, not be denied equal access to goods and services, especially to health care services.   The Civil Rights Division takes discrimination based on unfounded fears and stereotypes about HIV very seriously,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “We applaud Mercy Medical Group and CHW Medical Foundation, as well as Knoxville Chiropractic Centers, for working cooperatively with the Justice Department to resolve these matters quickly and fairly.”  
The settlement agreements require the entities to develop and implement a non-discrimination policy and to train staff on the requirements of the ADA.   In addition, Mercy Medical Group and CHW Medical Foundation are required to pay $60,000 to the complainant and $25,000 as a civil penalty, and Knoxville Chiropractic Centers is required to pay $10,000 as a civil penalty.  
The ADA requires public accommodations, like doctors’ offices, medical clinics, hospitals and other health care providers, to provide individuals with disabilities, including people with HIV, equal access to goods, services, privileges, accommodations, facilities, advantages and accommodations.  
The Department of Justice provides a webpage specifically dedicated to information about the ADA and HIV at   Those interested in finding out more about these settlements or the obligations of public accommodations under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at  ADA complaints may be filed by email

Texas Elections Require Monitoring; DOJ

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Friday, May 13, 2011
Justice Department to Monitor Elections in Texas
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it will monitor municipal elections on May 14, 2011, in Galveston, Jefferson, Liberty, Medina and San Patricio Counties in Texas to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.  In addition, the act requires certain covered jurisdictions to provide language assistance during the election process.  The monitored jurisdictions are required to provide language assistance in Spanish.

Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department is authorized to ask the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to send federal observers to jurisdictions that are certified by the attorney general or by a federal court order.  Federal observers will be assigned to monitor polling place activities in Galveston, Jefferson and Medina Counties based on the attorney general’s certification.   The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these counties, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.  
LINK to release