New York City has agreed to pay more than $1.3 million to 14 Department of Transportation employees who say their supervisors racially discriminated against them for almost a decade by addressing them with racial epithets, excluding them from preferred assignments and passing them over for promotion.
According to a complaint filed in January on behalf of the employees, as of October 2007, employees in the department’s Fleet Services unit reported to an executive director who routinely and openly used racial slurs to describe black employees. The director also served as an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor and was charged with handling complaints of discrimination.
Following an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Office in New York City, the director voluntarily retired, and his second-in-command was promoted to take his place.
However, discriminatory practices continued under the new leadership.
During the next director’s tenure, which lasted until June 2016, nonminority applicants were given preference for promotions, regardless of experience.
When certain employees challenged promotional decisions, the director removed them from their roles in the decision-making process.
According to a consent decree between the city and the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, which Southern District Judge John Koeltl approved on June 14, federal prosecutors began looking into the Department of Transportation’s promotional practices in 2015.
As part of the decree, the city admitted to allegations contained in the complaint. The employees were awarded back pay and compensatory damages ranging from $60,000 and more than $168,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Jean Hu appeared for the federal government. Assistant Corporation Counsel Andrea O’Connor appeared for the city.