Monk v. U.S.

Conley Monk Jr.
Conley Monk Jr.

On November 28, 2022, Conley Monk Jr., a Black veteran who served in the Vietnam War, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking redress for harm caused by longstanding racial disparities in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administration of veterans’ benefits programs.

For nearly fifty years after returning home from Vietnam, the VA improperly denied Mr. Monk’s applications for education, housing, and disability compensation. Only in December 2020 did the VA finally acknowledge that Mr. Monk was, in fact, eligible all along. Since then, Mr. Monk has obtained records from the VA showing a statistically significant difference in benefits claims outcomes between Black and white veterans. Specifically, the data shows that for decades, the VA denied the benefit applications of Black veterans at higher rates than their white counterparts. Thus, a Black veteran applying for his or her statutorily provided benefits was more likely to be denied than a white veteran.

Conley Monk Jr. & Doris Monk
Conley Monk Jr. & Doris Monk

Mr. Monk’s lawsuit, brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, challenges the failure of VA leaders to redress longstanding racial discrimination in VA’s benefits programs. Should Mr. Monk prevail, not only will this victory provide justice for him, but it could provide a legal pathway for the thousands of Black veterans like him who have suffered because of the VA’s discriminatory actions.

For additional information about this lawsuit, see the documents linked below.

On June 5, 2023, Mr. Monk filed an amended complaint, adding claims on behalf of the estate of his father, Conley Monk, Sr., and the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress, as well as allegations on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of Black veterans.

On March 29, 2024, a federal judge in Connecticut denied the government’s motion to dismiss, allowing the lawsuit to move forward. This decision marks a significant milestone in the legal battle against racial discrimination in the administration of veterans' benefits by the VA.

Case Documents
Order Denying Motion to Dismiss (March 29, 2024)
Amended Complaint (June 5, 2023)
Complaint (Nov. 28, 2022)
FTCA administrative claim on behalf of Conley Monk, Jr. (Feb. 25, 2022)
FTCA administrative claim on behalf of the estate of Conley Monk, Sr. (Nov. 28, 2022)
FTCA administrative claim on behalf of a veteran (March 3, 2023)

Selected Press Documents and Media
Press Release (April 1, 2024)
Kyle Jones, Hamden veteran appears in federal court for lawsuit that alleges racial discrimination in VA benefits, NBC Connecticut (Nov. 2, 2023)
Press Release (Nov. 28, 2022)
Alex Horton, Racial discrimination by Veterans Affairs spans decades, lawsuit says, Washington Post (Nov. 28, 2022)
Quil Lawrence, A Black Vietnam veteran is suing the VA for discrimination, NPR (Nov. 28, 2022)
Yash Roy, Vietnam Vet Sues Feds for Racial Bias, New Haven Independent (Nov. 30, 2022)
Mike Gooding, Lawsuit: Veterans Affairs Department discriminated against Black vets on benefits claims for decades, Channel 13 News (Nov. 28, 2022)
Desiree D’lorio, Lawsuit says VA isn’t doing enough to address racial disparities in veterans’ benefits, WBUR (Jan. 6. 2023)
Kyle Jones, Newly Released 2017 Report Shows Disparities in PTSD Claims Among Black Veterans, NBC-CT (Mar. 20, 2023)
Quil Lawrence, Black veterans are less likely to be approved for benefits, according to VA documents, NPR “All Things Considered” (Mar. 24, 2023)