NYC: Raise in the number of Discrimination Cases filed by City Employees

During Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg‘s first two terms in office, the number of lawsuits by employees accusing the city of discrimination was 12 percent higher than the number during Rudolph W. Giuliani‘s two terms as mayor.

The legal claims came from employees in a wide range of departments and the alleged discriminations are based on various criteria: age, sex, sexual orientation and sexual harassment, …

These information were provided by the city under the Freedom of Information Act.

“This administration is just not serious about civil rights enforcement” said Craig Gurian, a former counsel to the New York City Commission of Human Rights who is now executive director of the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York. Opponents to the Bloomberg administration criticize its policy and think that the heavy caseload and the settlement payouts raise questions about the city’s efforts to tackle discrimination. From 2002 to 2009, the city settled over 400 employees discrimination cases, for more than $69 million.

Representatives of the Bloomberg administration argue that the municipal work force has risen since Mr. Giuliani’s administration and that the increase in discrimination claims reflects an ailing economy, as well as a growing willingness among employees to speak out and seek legal redress, as encouraged by the administration. Yet, some plaintiffs still think that it is hard to speak out, as they fear retaliation.

Workplace discrimination is also an issue in Mr. Bloomberg’s business life. The firm he founded and led, Bloomberg L.P., has been battling a long-running lawsuit contending that Mr. Bloomberg and top managers created a hostile workplace for pregnant employees. Mr. Bloomberg testified for about eight hours in 2009 and the case is expected to go to trial next year.