What the heck is Systemic Discrimination, you might ask?

During President Obama’s last press conference on January 18, 2017, he vowed to speak out as private citizen if he saw “systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion”. To the average lay person, he/she may still be scratching his/her head wondering, what the heck is “systemic discrimination”.

The first time I heard the words “systemic discrimination” was at a meeting that I had attended at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC. A group of mainly African American attorneys that had worked for the agency had a meeting with then Solicitor of Labor, Thomas S. Williamson, Jr., to discuss perceived discrimination at the agency. During that meeting, I had mentioned to Mr. Williams that when it was time for me to be considered for a promotion to the GS 14 pay grade, I was not considered for the promotion. Subsequently, I had discovered that one of my colleagues who happened to be a Caucasian male and was hired after I had been hired, was promoted to the GS 14 position. Mr. Williams then asked if I believed I had been subjected to “systemic discrimination”. At the time, I was a wage-hour employment lawyer so I had no idea what the term “system discrimination” meant.

According to the EEOC, “systemic discrimination” involves a pattern or practice, policy, or class case where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company or geographic area. Recently, the Secret Service agency agreed to pay a $24-million-dollar settlement to settle a long standing race discrimination lawsuit that had been brought by African American Secret Service Agents that had been systemically denied opportunities for promotions, raise