Director William S. Sessions has approved promotion of 11 Hispanic special agents as the result of a successful lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In a memorandum to field offices this week, Sessions said he had accepted recommendations of a special panel that U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton of Texas appointed last year, several months after Bunton ruled that the agency had discriminated against Hispanic agents in promotion and working conditions.
"I believe that my decision on this matter is in the overall best interest of the FBI and the best interests of all of our employees," Sessions said.
Some 300 agents were involved in the class-action lawsuit. In addition to outlining some organizational reforms, Bunton in May 1989 ordered the FBI to promote Bernardo Perez, who originated the suit, to agent-in-charge of a field office or a comparable position.
The special masters -- former U.S. District Judge Susan Getzendanner, now with the Chicago office of the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm; University of Texas professor Barbara Jordan, a former member of Congress from Texas, and W. Edwin Youngblood, an arbitrator and former federal administrative law judge in Fort Worth -- were appointed to hear claims from other agents who believed they would have been promoted if not for discriminatory FBI policies.
The FBI has not released names of the 11 agents to be promoted, but spokesman Carlos H. Fernandez said they are investigators with at least seven years' experience. The claim of one additional agent was denied, and three others are pending before the special masters, he said.
Most of the promotions, which still are being worked out, will be to the lowest supervisory rank, Fernandez said, although one or two of the agents have received recommendations for higher positions. Salary increases accompanying the promotions could range from about $5,000 to more than $25,000 a year.