Over 570 Employees with Disabilities Settle Discrimination Class Action Against the Social Security Administration

New York – November 5, 2014 The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has preliminarily approved a class-wide settlement on behalf a class of over 570 current and former SSA employees with disabilities.  The Settlement Agreement provides for sweeping improvements to SSA’s policies and processes impacting the careers of employees with disabilities, including substantial monetary relief in the amount of $9.98 million and significant programmatic changes at SSA that are approximately valued at an additional $20 million.

Ronald Jantz, T. Jameel Muhammad, Donna Ring, Ellen Altemose, and Karl Baldwin are the Class Representatives in this class action lawsuit.  Mr. Jantz filed an EEO Complaint in August 2005, which was converted to a class complaint in October 2006.  In 2008, an Administrative Law Judge at the EEOC certified a class consisting of all current and former employees with targeted disabilities at the Social Security Administration who, on or after August 22, 2003, applied for and made a Best Qualified List for promotion, but were not selected for promotion.

The Settlement Agreement includes a substantial package of extensive programmatic changes valued at approximately $20 million that includes a new centralized reasonable accommodation office, accessible technology acquisition processes, training, provision of assistive supports for SSA employees, and an SSA Disability Agreement Implementation Board that will monitor the implementation of the programmatic relief. SSA has also established a separate fund of $9.98 million for the payment of claims to class members, legal fees and costs, and administrative costs.  Of this amount, $6.6 million will compensate the Settlement Class Members; $110,000 will cover service payments to the five Class Representatives, and the remainder of the funds will go towards costs and fees.

AFGE Local 1923 and the National Federation of the Blind contributed generously to the considerable out-of-pocket expenses in this case, and have supported the litigation almost since its inception by the original complainant who lodged the suit, Ronald Jantz.

The lead Class Representative, Ronald Jantz, was pleased with the settlement, noting that “many disabled employees at SSA have been held back from contributing fully to the important work SSA does because of discrimination and attitudinal barriers.  With this Settlement Agreement, SSA demonstrates its commitment to ensuring equal opportunity employment for all employees by empowering all employees to perform their jobs well and rewarding those disabled employees that are qualified for promotions. I am very proud to have worked with such an outstanding legal team to bring this case to such a successful resolution.”

The Settlement Class is represented by Shanon Carson and Sarah Schalman-Bergen of Berger & Montague, P.C., Daniel Goldstein and Brooke Lierman of Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP, Larry Paradis and Christine Chuang of Disability Rights Advocates, and Todd Schneider and Joshua Konecky of Schneider, Wallace, Cottrell, Konecky & Wotkyns.

For further details, visit the settlement website at www.ssadisabilityclassaction.com, and contact Dan Goldstein at (410) 962-1030 or dfg@browngold.com, or Shanon Carson at (215) 875-3000 or scarson@bm.net.

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