Case: United States of America and Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters v. City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

2:74-cv-00480 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

Filed Date: Oct. 17, 1974

Closed Date: 2005

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 17, 1974, the United States filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin against the City of Milwaukee, under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The Department of Justice alleged that the City was engaged in the pattern or practice of both racial and gender discrimination against African-Americans and women in recruitment, hiring and promotion, within the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) and the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).Contemporaneousl…

On October 17, 1974, the United States filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin against the City of Milwaukee, under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The Department of Justice alleged that the City was engaged in the pattern or practice of both racial and gender discrimination against African-Americans and women in recruitment, hiring and promotion, within the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) and the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).

Contemporaneously with the filing of the present complaint, the Court (Judge John Reynolds) entered a consent decree resolving all the issues against the MFD in this action, as well as two separate private actions, on October 17, 1974. The two separate private actions, Washington v. Block (No. 74-C-318) and NAACP v. Block (No. 74-C-368), were filed against the MFD, where plaintiffs alleged pattern or practice of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin with respect to employment opportunities. The decree enjoined the City from engaging in any employment practices regarding the MFD that have the purpose or the effect of unlawfully discriminating against applicants or employees on the basis of their race, gender or national origin. Under the decree, the Court retained the jurisdiction over the action and could enter any necessary supplemental or corrective relief, if any of the plaintiffs alleged employment discrimination by the City.

However, the action against the MPD continued. On April 10, 1975, the Court (Judge John Reynolds) issued an order, granting the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction to prohibit the MPD from enforcing its rules and regulations. The Court found that the internal rules prevented the MPD employees from cooperating, and did not allow the DOJ to conduct investigation and discovery, and adequately prepare for trial. The Court also prohibited investigation or retaliation for cooperation, or keeping any records of employee cooperation with the DOJ. United States v. City of Milwaukee, 390 F.Supp. 1126 (E.D. Wis. 1975).

On June 25, 1975, the Court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. On July 25, 1975, the Court entered an order regarding the defendants' employment practices, both in the present case and a private action, Ward v. Block (No. 74-C-333). The order set interim hiring goals for both the MFD and MPD in relation to hiring of females and African Americans: two black applicants had to be hired for every three white applicants hired; five women had to be hired by October 1, 1975, and five more by January 5, 1976. By October 1, 1975, the defendants had to report to the Court with respect to available promotional opportunities for women. On October 9, 1975, the Court issued another order with hiring objectives for minorities and women: two black, American Indian and Latin applicants had to be hired for three white applicants hired. On September 16, 1976, the Court issued another order, setting an interim goal of one female applicant hired for four male appointments, for both the MFD and MPD.

On September 21, 1976, the defendants filed a motion seeking to vacate the 1974 consent decree related to the action against the MFD.

On December 12, 1977, the Court issued a decision and order on the only remaining issue in the case, dealing with equality of wages of the female police matrons and male jailers. The Court found that both categories of workers fulfilled substantially the same functions at jails. Thus, the Court ordered that female matrons must receive the same compensation as male jailers, and that female matrons must receive back pay in the amount of what they would have received, plus interest, from October 17, 1972. United States v. City of Milwaukee, 441 F.Supp. 1371 (E.D. Wis. 1977).

On December 20, 1977, the Court (Judge John Reynolds) issued an order denying the defendants' motion to vacate the consent order. United States v. City of Milwaukee, 441 F.Supp. 1377 (E.D. Wis. 1977).

On June 14, 1979, the plaintiff moved for supplemental relief under the 1974 consent decree. The motion requested that women be appointed as paramedics without going through a training course for firefighters, and immediate appointment of two individual women as paramedics. The Court issued an order granting supplemental relief, on December 14, 1979. The Court found that the requirement had a disparate effect on women applicants. United States v. City of Milwaukee, 481 F.Supp. 1162 (E.D. Wis. 1979).

In the spring of 1979, the Office of Revenue Sharing conducted an investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department. The results of the investigation formed the basis of an August 1979 preliminary determination that the City of Milwaukee had used promotion selection procedures and had engaged in assignment practices that adversely affected the employment opportunities of black police officers. These procedures and practices were not shown to predict job performance or to be required by business necessity.

On November 19, 1981, an organization of black police officers called the League of Martin ("the League") and several individual black officers filed a lawsuit, League of Martin v. City of Milwaukee (No. 81-C-1465), against the City, the MPD, the Milwaukee Police and Fire Commission, and several individuals within the MPD. The complaint alleged that the defendants had engaged in discriminatory practices with respect to assignments, transfers, promotions, and working conditions within the Police Department, in violation of Title VII. On May 24, 1982, the Court (Judge John Reynolds) certified that Civil Action No. 81-C-1465 be maintained as a class action. The class certified consisted of all black police officers, employed at the time by the City, and future black police officers who have been subjected to racial discrimination in assignments, promotions, discipline, and working conditions by the defendants.

Meanwhile, the United States renewed its investigation of assignment and promotion practices within the MPD. The Assistant Attorney General thereafter determined that the defendants' assignment of officers to the Tactical Enforcement Unit ("the Tac Squad") of the MPD unlawfully discriminated against blacks. On September 3, 1982, the United States filed a motion for supplemental relief in the present case. The United States therein requested an order establishing an objective, job-related procedure for assignments to the Tac Squad that did not adversely affect black applicants.

On September 17, 1982, the plaintiffs in the civil action No. 81-C-1425 moved to intervene in the present case. This motion was superseded by a motion to consolidate the two actions filed September 27, 1982. Neither the defendants nor the United States opposed the motion to consolidate, and the order consolidating the cases was issued on January 7, 1983.

On May 18, 1983, the United States filed a second motion for supplemental relief, based on the Assistant Attorney General's determination that promotion procedures and assignments to and within the several geographic districts of the MPD violated Title VII. The certified class joined in the motion.

Settlement negotiations started on August 26, 1983. The negotiations came to a standstill when several black police officers were fired from the MPD. On November 18, 1983, the Court (Judge John Reynolds) appointed a Special Master to assist with the negotiations. The parties reached an agreement and filed the proposed settlement with the Court on December 15, 1983. However, the United States unexpectedly indicated that it had problems with the language of the settlement and would propose changes. The Court scheduled a fairness hearing on the proposed consent decree on April 5, 1984, which lasted two days. On the close of the hearing on April 6, 1984, the Court stated that the present case and the private class action would be severed, as it was advised by the Special Master that the DOJ had several nonsubstantive issues with the language and it would be better to sever the cases.

On June 8, 1984, the Court issued an order severing the cases. On the same day, the Court issued an order approving the consent decree in this case. The defendants were prohibited from racial discrimination in assignment, transfer and promotion within the MPD, and agreed to develop an objective selection procedure with the help of a testing expert. The consent decree also set hiring goals for various positions, departments and geographic districts within the MPD. Many of the appointments had to come with retroactive seniority. Two individual black police officers received promotions, retroactive seniority and backpay. The defendants agreed to keep records with respect to implementation of the decree and report to the United States. The United States' motion for monetary relief was resolved by the approval of the order in the private class action on June 8, 1984. The consent order dissolved in 1989 by its terms (as amended by June 20, 1989 order).

On September 27, 1996, twenty years after the last hiring order was entered, the United States filed a motion to modify the old hiring orders, noting significant changes to the law and facts. On October 11, 1996, a white male applicant to the MPD filed a petition to intervene, who was a plaintiff in a parallel case, LEOCARD (No. 93-C-189), citing direct interest in the proposed changes to hiring orders. On October 28, 1996, the City filed its own motion to modify hiring orders. On November 20, 1996, an organization representing Latino police officers filed a motion to intervene.

The City agreed to the plaintiff's proposed modifications, but immediately needed to hire new police officers.The parties to the case filed a joint motion for a temporary order, vacating old hiring orders to accommodate the City's immediate need for police officers, on July 22, 1997. The motion was granted by the court (Judge John Reynolds) on July 29, 1997, also establishing temporary hiring objectives tied to the proportions of white, African American, Hispanic, American Indian minorities and women in the relevant civilian labor force. On the same day, the Court denied without prejudice the two motions to intervene. On August 21, 1997, the white male filed a notice of appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

On October 8, 1997, the Latino police officers organization filed another motion to intervene as intervenor defendant, which was granted by the Court on October 31, 1997. On January 28, 1998, the organization against reverse discrimination filed a motion to intervene, while still involved in the above parallel litigation. On January 31, 1998, the case was randomly reassigned to Judge Lynn Adelman. On March 18, 1998, the same organization of black police officers involved in the case earlier filed a motion to intervene as an intervenor plainitff. On April 1, 1998, the Court (Judge Lynn Adelman) granted both motions to intervene, and the parallel case No. 93-C-189 was dismissed with the agreement of the parties.

On April 27, 1998, the Court (Judge Lynn Adelman) issued an order granting both the plaintiff's and the defendant's motion to modify hiring orders. The City agreed make every good faith effort to develop and use procedures to select MPD officers that have no adverse impact based on race, national origin or gender, and to publish notices in the newspapers advising the public of the current position of this case and of the City's efforts to develop new selection procedures.

On May 19, 1998, the Seventh Circuit issued an opinion, dismissing the white male's appeal. On September 30, 2000, the District Court denied the motion to consolidate the present case and civil action No. 93-C-189. That was the last major action in this case in relation to the MPD.

On October 5, 2000, the EEOC ("EEOC") referred to the DOJ charges of employment discrimination against the MFD, under Title VII. The charges of discrimination included allegations that the selection processes for

Firefighters, as well as for promotion within the MFD, unlawfully discriminate against African Americans. Following an investigation, the EEOC determined there was reasonable cause to believe racial discrimination existed in the 1993 and 1995 written examinations for firefighters; the recruitment and hiring of firefighters and cadets; and promotions within the MFD. The EEOC referred the charges to the DOJ following failure to conciliate an agreement. The DOJ carried out its own supplemental investigation.

On October 30, 2001, an organization representing African American firefighters filed a motion to intervene, asserting the same claims as the United States in relation to 1993, 1995, and 1999 written examinations. On the same day, the United States, the plaintiff-intervenor and the defendant filed a joint motion for supplemental order. On October 31, 2001, the Court granted the plaintiff-intervenor's motion to intervene. On November 30, 2001, the Court issued a supplemental order. Under the order, it was found that the 1993, 1995 and 1999 written examinations had a disparate impact on African American applicants, resulting in shortfall of appointments. The order enjoined the City from using the same selection procedures, and the City had to come up with the selection procedures that comply with Title VII. The City was ordered to pay total sum of $1,800,000.00 in three deposits to satisfy any claims of backpay by African Americans, who were eligible to be hired under 1993 and 1995 examinations. The City had to hire a certain number of African Americans from those eligible under 1993, 1995 and 1999 examinations. All appointees had to be given retroactive seniority with appropriate pension benefits. The City had to retain records and report to both plaintiffs every six months. The Court retained jurisdiction for three years. Under the order, after three years or implementation of all remedial relief to the claimants, the City had to file a written certification that all remedies were implemented, with the Court and serve to the parties. After that, the order and the 1974 decree would be dissolved.

The order was subject to a fairness hearing. After it had taken place, the Court issued an order approving the supplemental order on May 23, 2002.

On December 1, 2003, the Court approved a joint motion to administratively close the case with respect to the MPD matters by the City, United States, and various intervenors. Unless a party moved to reopen the case with good cause, the Court's jurisdiction over the MPD matters would dissolve on July 31, 2005.

On June 13, 2005, the City filed the certification of full implementation of remedial measures in relation to the 2001 supplemental order and served it to the parties. On December 4, 2005, upon lack of objections, the Court dissolved the 1974 decree and 2001 order, and dismissed the case.

The case seems to be closed.

Summary Authors

Zhandos Kuderin (7/14/2014)



Adelman, Lynn S. (Wisconsin)

Cummings, Walter Joseph (Illinois)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Reynolds, John W. (Wisconsin)

Ripple, Kenneth Francis (Indiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Avila, David Pablo (District of Columbia)

Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Burrows, Charlotte (District of Columbia)

Gadzichowski, John M. (District of Columbia)

Gomez, Abel (District of Columbia)


Adelman, Lynn S. (Wisconsin)

Cummings, Walter Joseph (Illinois)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Reynolds, John W. (Wisconsin)

Ripple, Kenneth Francis (Indiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Avila, David Pablo (District of Columbia)

Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Burrows, Charlotte (District of Columbia)

Gadzichowski, John M. (District of Columbia)

Gomez, Abel (District of Columbia)

Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)

Levy, Allen W. (District of Columbia)

Martin, Marybeth (District of Columbia)

Rocque, Amanda (District of Columbia)

Schmidlkofer, Scott A (Wisconsin)

Simon, Thomas C (Wisconsin)

Thawley, Barbara E (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Brennan, James B. (Wisconsin)

Hayes, Thomas E. (Wisconsin)

Horwitz, Miriam R. (Wisconsin)

Konrad, Rudolph M (Wisconsin)

Langley, Grant F. (Wisconsin)

Other Attorney(s)

Berrios, Anna Maria (Wisconsin)

Dorow, Jennifer R. (Wisconsin)

Earle, Peter (Wisconsin)

Fuchs, John F (Wisconsin)

Hall, James H. Jr. (Wisconsin)

Hawks, Timothy E. (Wisconsin)

Hirschberg, D. Jeffrey (District of Columbia)

Patterson, Patrick O. (California)

Sutherland, Kimberly Ann (Illinois)

Documents in the Clearinghouse


Docket [Related Case]

Zellman v. City of Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission

June 26, 2003 Docket


USA v. Milwaukee

Dec. 4, 2005 Docket

Decision and Order [Granting Preliminary Injunction]

United States v. City of Milwaukee

390 F.Supp. 1126

April 10, 1975 Order/Opinion

Decision and Order [Denying Motion to Dismiss]

395 F.Supp. 725

June 25, 1975 Order/Opinion

Majority Opinion [Vacating Temporary Restraining Order]

United States v. City of Milwaukee

1975 WL 11839

July 25, 1975 Order/Opinion

Decision and Order

United States v. City of Milwaukee

441 F.Supp. 1371

Dec. 12, 1977 Order/Opinion

Decision and Order [Denying Motions to Dismiss and Vacate Consent Decree]

United States v. City of Milwaukee

441 F.Supp. 1377

Dec. 20, 1977 Order/Opinion

Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order

United States v. City of Milwaukee

481 F.Supp. 1162

Dec. 14, 1979 Order/Opinion

Decision and Order [Approving Consent Decree]

United States v. City of Milwaukee

102 F.R.D. 218

June 8, 1984 Order/Opinion

Temporary Order of July 29, 1997 Modifying Old Hiring Orders of July 25, 1975, October 9, 1975, and September 16, 1976

United States v. City of Milwaukee

1997 WL 1911226

July 29, 1997 Order/Opinion


Last updated May 12, 2022

ECF Number Description Date Link

NOTICE OF REMOVAL by all defendants from Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Case Number: 03cv003695 with attached S/C. Consent Forms Distributed for Magistrate Judge Goodstein. ( Filing fee $ 150 paid) (ers, ) (Entered: 04/25/2003)

April 24, 2003

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Lynn Adelman : Status Conference held on 4/25/2003. Plaintiffs will be allowed to take test if (1) Court decides that law requires &(2) decision is made before eligible list is adopted by Fire &Police Commission; in light of that order. Plaintiffs Motion for TRO is DENIED as MOOT. Defendants motion to dismiss due 4/30/03 &turn over documents to Plaintiff regarding how random selection was made on same date. Plaintiff has to 5/7/03 to respond to motion. Defendant has 5/14/03 to Reply. If motion is Denied, Court will hold status conference. (Court Reporter None) (ers, )

April 25, 2003

Defts' MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, or in the alternative, MOTION for Summary Judgment (djd) (Entered: 04/30/2003)

April 29, 2003

Defts' BRIEF in Support of 3 MOTION to Dismiss or alternatively, MOTION for Summary Judgment (djd) (Entered: 04/30/2003)

April 29, 2003

Proposed Findings of Fact by Defts in Support of Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment. (djd) (Entered: 04/30/2003)

April 29, 2003

AFFIDAVIT of Susan L Liedtke (djd) (Entered: 04/30/2003)

April 29, 2003

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Defts (djd) (Entered: 04/30/2003)

April 29, 2003

BRIEF by plntfs in Opposition to 3 MOTION to Dismiss, or alternatively, MOTION for Summary Judgment (djd) (Entered: 05/08/2003)

May 7, 2003

Minute Entry for telephone conference held before Judge Lynn Adelman on 5/13/2003. Deft's counsel requested extension to 5/21/03 to file reply brief, respresented that plntf agreed to this extension. Request is granted. Deft's reply brief due 5/21/03. (Court Reporter NA) (djd) (Entered: 05/14/2003)

May 13, 2003

REFUSAL of Consent to Jurisdiction by US Magistrate Judge by Defts (djd)

May 16, 2003

REPLY BRIEF by defts in Support of 3 MOTION to Dismiss MOTION for Summary Judgment. (djd) (Entered: 05/19/2003)

May 16, 2003

Supplemental AFFIDAVIT of Jane French (djd) (Entered: 05/19/2003)

May 16, 2003

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE by Defts (djd) (Entered: 05/19/2003)

May 16, 2003

ORDER signed by Judge Lynn Adelman on 6/26/03granting Defts' 3 Motion to Dismiss, and this case is dismissed. (cc: all counsel) (djd ) (Entered: 06/27/2003)

June 26, 2003

JUDGMENT entered by Deputy Clerk on 6/26/03 in favor of Defts (cc: all counsel)(djd) (Entered: 06/27/2003)

June 26, 2003

State / Territory: Wisconsin

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 17, 1974

Closing Date: 2005

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so


Plaintiff Description:

United States government on behalf of African-American and female employees of the City of Milwaukee, and two organizations representing African-American firefighters and police officers intervening later.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted


City of Milwaukee (Milwaukee, Milwaukee), City

Defendant Type(s):




Case Details

Causes of Action:

Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion


Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order


Source of Relief:



Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 1,800,000.00

Order Duration: 1974 - 2005

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted



Position Restored


Retroactive Seniority

Discrimination Prohibition

Retaliation Prohibition

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Utilize objective job description

Utilize objective hiring/promotion criteria

Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols

Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Provide antidiscrimination training





Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Required disclosure



Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Pattern or Practice

Records Disclosure




Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)

Pay / Benefits






National origin discrimination

Race discrimination

Sex discrimination


American Indian/Alaskan Native


Race, unspecified

Affected Gender:


National Origin/Ethnicity: