The Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon H. Kim, announced today that the United States settled a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on January 18, 2017, that alleged that New York Fleet Services management violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, the lawsuit was filed against the New York City Department Of Transportation. The lawsuit alleged that from approximately October 2007 through May 2016 the Fleet Service unit management of the Department of Transportation engaged in a pattern or practice of racial discrimination. The individual in management was referred to in the lawsuit as Executive Director I.

Race discrimination claimed

According to the complaint filed, Executive Director I, who also served as the Equal Employment Opportunity counselor, had a complaint from all employees in the Fleet unit in 2007, saying that he used racial epithets to describe African-American employees. In 2009, the New York City Department of Transportation EEO office received a complaint stating that he was engaging in race discrimination. The claim was investigated and it was recommended that he be demoted, suspended, and relieved of his responsibilities. The Executive Director I resigned and the second-in-command was promoted.

Investigation to prove claim

During the lawsuit investigation, the second-in-command was alleged to have excluded minorities from preferred assignments and special projects.

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It was also alleged that the Department of Transportation -- in 2010 and then again in 2013 -- discriminated against minorities when it came to promotions, and when an individual spoke out against this, they were threatened with physical retaliation. Although other members of the Fleet executive leadership witnessed these threats, no disciplinary action was ever taken.

Consent decree ordered

In the consent decree approved yesterday by U. S. District Judge John G. Koeltl, the city has agreed to offer monetary compensation to 14 individuals, and said that they are entitled to back pay and compensatory damages. The city has agreed to pay the individual who brought this case to the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a total of $150,000 in compensatory damages and attorney's fees. The city will also offer the individual and two other minority candidates -- all of whom were promoted by the city after the U.S. Attorney’s Office informed the city of its investigation -- retroactive seniority benefits commensurate with having been promoted during the time period relevant to the complaint. The city is also required to take steps to ensure that it complies with Title VII as it relates to promoting workers in the future. The city has also agreed to admit to facts relating to the allegations in the complaint.