It looks as if New York City’s history of discrimination will result in a big financial settlement.
Monday, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that the city of New York had systematically discriminated against its employees on the basis of race and gender, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The determination is the result of an investigation into the case of CWA 1180 v. Bloomberg in 2013, in which CWA Local 1180 President Arthur Cheliotes charged that the city routinely discriminated against administrative managers in city agencies via wage suppression and subjective promotions on the basis of race, sex and national origin. He also charged that superficially neutral assignment, promotion and wage policies have a disparate impact on female Black and Hispanic administrative managers.
The EEOC also confirmed that the city did not bargain in good faith with Local 1180 over pay equity.
“This EEOC finding is a very important milestone in this union’s journey to justice for the members of Local 1180,” said Cheliotes during a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the union’s headquarters in lower Manhattan. “What this finding shows is that the claims that we have been making for years now were valid, legitimate and warrant immediate action on the part of the city of New York. What the commission has shown is that the claims related to women of color who have toiled in the city agencies for decades have not received the compensation they’re entitled to … have not been offered the same opportunities that were offered to whites and males.”
“We’re certainly very encouraged by the decision,” said Yetta Kurland, of the Kurland Group and CWA Local 1180’s attorney. “Pay inequity hurts all of us, especially women and people of color. We hope that the city does the right thing.”
According to the administrative managers sitting beside Kurland and Cheliotes, this particular situation has ebbed and flowed, depending on whose administration was in City Hall at the time. Starting in the mid-1970s, women and people of color engaged in a tug-of-war for equal pay and only found solace during the David Dinkins administration. From former Mayors Ed Koch, Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, there were false hopes and, at times, outright hostility in the quest for equal pay for equal work and unbiased promotions.
Some of the recommendations by the EEOC include mandatory exams no less frequently than every four years to ensure opportunities for promotion; city record keeping, as required by law, to monitor for possible future inequity; clear job descriptions and selection criteria to inform employees of opportunities for advancement; and tuition assistance for enrollees in the CWA 1180 career education programs at the City University of New York.
“Today we have a federal government making it clear to the city of New York that it must mend its ways,” said Cheliotes.
The city’s deadline to come forward with a proposal to remedy the situation is April 17.