Manhattan Federal Judge Finds New York City Engaged in Pattern or Practice of Discrimination against Women

LawFuel.com –
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced that a Manhattan federal
judge found late yesterday that the City of New York and its
Department of Transportation (“DOT”) engaged in a “pattern or
practice” of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex in the
hiring of bridge painters, in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964. The “pattern or practice” provision of Title
VII prohibits widespread acts of intentional discrimination
against individuals, that is, where intentional discrimination is
an employer’s standard operating procedure.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of
New York filed its civil lawsuit against New York City and the
DOT in March of 2007, alleging that the DOT had never hired,
extended an offer to hire, or employed a single woman as a bridge
painter, instead hiring less qualified men for that position even
though qualified women had applied. The lawsuit also alleged
that New York City and the DOT relied upon a arbitrary and
subjective hiring process that had the effect of systematically
excluding qualified women from obtaining the position of bridge
painter at DOT.

Ruling on the basis of evidence presented by the United
States during a four-day bench trial conducted in October 2009,
District Judge WILLIAM H. PAULEY concluded, in a 43-page
decision, that New York City and DOT had engaged in “unvarnished
sex discrimination” by turning away women applicants for the
bridge painter position, “[d]espite their years of bridge
painting experience in the private sector, . . . solely because
they were women.” Judge PAULEY stated: “The evidence adduced
at trial reveals a municipal division in America’s largest city
that refuses to hire women in spite of social norms, sound
business practices, and city, state, and federal law.”

Among other things, Judge PAULEY found that New York
City and the DOT engaged in “intentional appeasement of DOT’s
existing all-male workforce,” which Judge PAULEY found “resisted
hiring or promoting female workers to preserve a de facto boys
club in which lewd sexual images and cartoons were frequently
displayed and employees disparaged their female supervisor,
apparently without consequence.” Judge PAULEY also faulted the
City and the DOT for a hiring process that was “without
meaningful objective standards or consistent guidelines.” Judge
PAULEY also found that New York City and the DOT subjected “every
female applicant for the bridge painter position” to “less
favorable treatment than less qualified male applicants.” As
Judge PAULEY recounted: “[T]he Government showed that the
relevant decision makers at DOT always chose a man for a position
when a more qualified female candidate was available.”

The “net result,” Judge PAULEY found, was “to exclude
qualified and impressive women from pursuing careers they desired
with the City of New York.” The evidence, Judge PAULEY
concluded, “leaves no room for dispute” that the United States
proved its pattern or practice case by showing that New York City
and DOT “failed to meet their legal obligations to treat men and
women seeking City employment equally.”

Judge PAULEY’s decision adopted a set of systematic
reforms that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had proposed for the
DOT’s hiring practices for the bridge painter position. The
Court’s decision also directs that a hearing be held to determine
the appropriate relief for the four women applicants who were
subjected to discrimination.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “Discriminatory
employment practices cannot be tolerated in a world-class city
like New York. Equal rights must apply to all persons in all
walks of life in America. The Southern District of New York will
continue to work vigorously to protect women’s rights in the
workplace.”

Assistant United States Attorneys JEANNETTE A. VARGAS,
ALLISON D. PENN, and LI YU are in charge of the case.
10-159 ###

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