One would think that in the year 2017, systematic racism wouldn’t really be a thing. Unfortunately, it’s still alive in today’s society, and many would actually argue that racial tensions are at the highest they’ve been in years. For example, just recently a lawsuit was filed against the New York Department of Transportation (DOT), “accusing it of systemic racism under its previous commissioner.”
The lawsuit was filed by the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara, and explains how African American employees of the fleet services division were called racial slurs, including “monkeys” and “gorillas.” Additionally, the suit claims white bosses demoted African American employees and “kept them from getting promotions and overtime.” Bharara’s office is seeking “damages for victims” and changes to the DOT’s current practices.
So when did the problem begin? How long did it take before a lawsuit was officially filed against this blatant systematic racism? Well, it started all the way back in 2007 “when a newly-promoted white executive director” issued an order to demote an African American assistant supervisor. That employee fought back until the new executive director “threw a tantrum, took the black man’s computer, and rerouted phone calls away from his office.”
Another instance of racism in the DOT occurred when a different African American employee requested a cell phone, only to be refused by the same executive director, who later gave a cell phone to a white employee “with less seniority” and said, “That n—er gets nothing.”
Fortunately, that executive director was replaced in 2010, but his replacement wasn’t much better. Though he ended up being “less overtly racist,” the lawsuit claims that he “started a practice of promoting mostly whites and also refused overtime to black employees.” It’s this sort of workplace racism that compelled Bharara to open a case against the New York DOT, and ever since then, city DOT officials “have been working with the Equal Opportunity Office to make sure similar racism does not happen again and that they are willing to compensate the victims.”
In fact, Scott Gastel, a DOT spokesman, even said that the “NYC DOT and the Corporation Counsel have been working with DOJ to reach a settlement, which will include financial remediation where appropriate.” He added, “In addition, DOT has made administrative structural changes to its Fleet unit and enhanced its internal EEO monitoring.” While it is certainly great to see the DOT taking responsibility, it’s sad that a situation like this even transpired. Hopefully, those who were discriminated against will get the justice they deserve.