All New York employers have a legal responsibility to identify and address any racial discrimination within their organization. It is not enough for a company to say it does not discriminate, or to adopt policies that purport to prohibit illegal acts. The employer must have a process in place for receiving complaints, investigating allegations of discrimination, including race-based harassment, and taking any proper remedial action. Under no circumstances should an employer fire or in any way retaliate against an employee who makes a good-faith complaint of racial discrimination.
Official Hired to Promote Diversity Alleges Retaliation for Doing His Job
Unfortunately, even large, sophisticated employers that should know better frequently fail to follow these principles. Flouting anti-discrimination laws and retaliating against employees will eventually catch up with you. That appears to be the case with one of New York's most high-profile employers, the United States Tennis Association.
The USTA is a non-profit organization based in White Plains that serves as the national regulator for professional and amateur tennis in the United States. The USTA is perhaps best known to New Yorkers as the host of the annual U.S. Open, which draws hundreds of thousands of fans to Queens each year. But although this tournament features players of all genders and nationalities, the USTA has come under fire in recent years for discrimination with respect to the assignment of chair umpires who referee the matches.
In 2006, the New York Attorney General's office found that “few minority umpires have been selected to chair matches at the US Open, especially in the more prestigious later-round matches.” There was also “stark gender disparities in the assignment of chair umpires to matches,” despite the fact there were “numerous female chair umpires qualified to work at the US Open.” In response to the Attorney General's findings, the USTA signed an Assurance of Discontinuance, a legal document where it promised to comply with anti-discrimination laws going forward.
That apparently did not put an end to the USTA's problems. In July of this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a formal determination, finding “there is reasonable cause to believe that [the USTA] has discriminated and retaliated against” a former black officiating coordinator. This ex-official previously filed a charge with the EEOC, alleging he was subject to racial harassment and discrimination, and was ultimately subject to retaliation for complaining about these illegal actions.
According to the sports media website Deadspin, which obtained copies of the EEOC's determination and supporting documents, the ex-official was originally hired to “promote diversity and inclusion,” which included “soothing employees who felt marginalized.” In the course of performing these duties, the ex-official said he “filed complaints with his superiors at USTA and requested investigations into possible acts of discrimination, including when a black woman who worked for the USTA found a noose near her work area.”
In response, the ex-official said he was “banned from traveling” and “excluded from office meetings,” before being “relieved of his duties last summer.” Deadspin reached out to several other current and former USTA officials who were also allegedly the targets of racial discrimination, but none replied, possibly out of fear of retaliation.
Get Help From a New York Employment Discrimination Attorney
Racial discrimination is usually not a one-time event in a company. It tends to be pervasive, and it usually starts at the top of the organization. That is why if you have been the target of racial discrimination and fear you may be subject to retaliation if you complain, you need to speak with a qualified New York employment law attorney who can advise you of your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Mahir S. Nisar in New York City or Long Island if you need to speak with an employment discrimination lawyer today.