Class action lawsuit details widespread racial discrimination at Buildings Department

According to its website, New York City’s Building’s Department ensures for “the lawful use of over one million buildings and construction sites,” throughout the city, “by enforcing compliance with city building codes and regulations.” The integral role that the Buildings Department plays in helping keep the city’s infrastructure and residents safe, cannot be overstated and it should go without saying that the agency should strive to hire and retain only the most skilled and experienced employees.

A federal class action lawsuit was recently filed by several black and West Indian employees who work at the Buildings Department. The scathing allegations contained in the lawsuit detail several disturbing instances where minority employees suffered overt discrimination at the hands of white supervisors, executives and human resources managers.

Among the claims detailed in the lawsuit are cases in which minority employees with more experience were continually passed over for promotions that were subsequently awarded to less-experienced and qualified white candidates. In one incident, a 28-year-old Haitian Buildings Department veteran had been informed that he was selected for a supervisor job only to subsequently be told that the job had been given to a less-experienced white candidate.

Other incidences of the department’s blatantly discriminatory practices include a case in which a minority employee was “passed over for a supervisory job,” only to be told by his boss that he then needed to assist the less-qualified white candidate who was hired. Additional details related to the agency’s troubling practices include cases in which white workers, who lacked required training and qualifications, were hired over qualified minority employees as well as reports of minority employees who were informed that they lacked required qualifications for certain positions only to learn that white employees who held the same positions also lacked the same qualifications. 

Discriminating against an employee based on his or her race, sex, age, disability, nationality, religion or sexual orientation is illegal and workers who have suffered workplace discrimination are advised to seek legal advice.

Source: Gothamist, “Racist NYC Buildings Department Managers Deny Black People Promotions, Lawsuit Says,” Nathan, Tempey, Dec. 8, 2015

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