Too many New Yorkers continue to face institutional race discrimination in the workplace. This problem is not exclusive to private employers. Many state, city, and county agencies fail in their legal responsibility to treat all of their employees fairly, regardless of race or national origin.
NYCDOT Supervisors Accused of Favoring White Employees
For example, the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that the City of New York will pay $1.3 million to settle charges of illegal race discrimination against 14 black employees who worked for the city's Department of Transportation (NYCDOT). The United States Attorney's office in Manhattan, said the NYCDOT “engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination” against the 14 employees over a period of nearly nine years.
According to a formal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney this past January, the employees worked for the Fleet Services subdivision of the NYCDOT. Fleet Services is responsible for maintaining the City's fleet of heavy machinery, including vehicles like dump trucks and cranes. The subdivision is run by an executive director, who reports to a NYCDOT deputy commissioner.
The U.S. Attorney said the illegal race discrimination took place under two consecutive executive directors. In one alleged incident, “Executive Director I” removed an African-American assistant manager from his position because he was “forced down my throat by the two monkeys who put him in the office and I want him out!” The “monkeys” referred two of the NYCDOT's deputy commissioners, who like the assistant manager were African-American.
In another incident, another African-American employee at Fleet Services requested a cell phone. His request was denied, despite the fact a Caucasian employee with less seniority had received a cell phone. When this was brought to the attention of Executive Director I, he allegedly said “that [N-word] gets nothing.”
Beyond these two specific incidents, the U.S. Attorney said there was a “culture of fear and intimidation” at Fleet Services that “routinely and systematically excluded minorities from preferred assignments and special projects.” In many cases, Executive Director I and his successor “handpicked white candidates” for these tasks to ensure they would have “the best opportunity for advancement.”
In announcing the settlement, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim also faulted senior management at the NYCDOT for failing to “take proper corrective action” and illegally retaliating “against those brave enough to speak out.” The settlement requires the City to give retroactive seniority benefits to the African-American employees who were wrongly denied opportunities for advancement. The NYCDOT must also follow applicable New York State civil service laws in filling future supervisory positions within Fleet Services.
Is There a Pattern of Race Discrimination at Your Job?
Not all race discrimination is immediately obvious. A manager or supervisor may not actually use racial epithets or derogatory language. If there is a consistent pattern of favoring white over non-white employees when it comes to benefits or promotional opportunities, that is just as illegal. If you have any reason to suspect that you have been the victim of race discrimination at work, you should speak with a qualified New York employment law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar in New York City of Long Island today.