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New York City Settles Claims of Discrimination and Retaliation by African American Official

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo.jpgNew York City recently agreed to settle allegations of race discrimination and retaliation by an African American official working at the city’s Human Resources Administration (“HRA”). Sandra Glaves-Morgan had claimed in her lawsuit that the agency’s commissioner and others retaliated against her because she complained about contracting practices.

The City decided to settle the case for $750,000 after Glaves-Morgan won a jury trial in the U.S. Southern District Court of New York on her discrimination and retaliation claim. The jury awarded her $420,000 in compensatory damages, found that she was entitled to punitive damages, and awarded her legal fees which are estimated to be around $720,000. The settlement includes no admission of liability on the City’s part and was reached before the jury could deliberate on the punitive damages amount. If you have been discriminated against at your place of employment because of your race or sex, our attorneys can help you determine if you have a claim against your employer.

Glaves-Morgan is a naturalized citizen from Jamaica who graduated from Yale and has a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. After having worked at the Legal Aid Society, the state comptroller’s office, and the Board of Education, she began working at the HRA in 1995 as a deputy general counsel and was later appointed as chief contracts officer. Glaves-Morgan alleged that in that position, she felt that vendors whose employees were members of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union were given preferential treatment in contracting.

Glaves-Morgan raised this issue in 2007 with the agency’s new commissioner, Robert Doar, who had just been appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, he later demoted her. She also alleged that every time her assignments and duties were taken from her, they went to somebody who was not African American. She was also told that her salary would be cut 20% and that she would be relocated to an office in Brooklyn, but that at least she would not be “cleaning washrooms.”

The City denied the charges and defended Doar as having a solid record of promoting minority groups, women, and people of color. The HRA’s spokeswoman, Connie Ress, stated that the allegations of discrimination against the agency officials were “wholly without merit.”

It is illegal to discriminate against an individual on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin, or sex with respect to any aspect of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, pay, layoff, training, or any other term or condition of employment. The law also prohibits retaliation against a person because he or she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or took part in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

It is a shame that a city agency such as the Human Resources Administration which serves more than 3 million New Yorkers was found by a jury to have engaged in employment discrimination and retaliation. Unfortunately, race and sex discrimination exist even in a city as diverse as New York City. Don’t let race discrimination stop you from reaching your full potential at your place of employment. If you are being discriminated against at your workplace, call our Employment Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you figure out your best course of action.

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