On February 26, 2008, New York City agreed to settle in Wright v. Stern, a federal class-action discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Parks and Recreation for more than $21 million. In settling, the department also committed to making major changes in personnel practices, in addition to those it made in 2005 in settling a separate discrimination lawsuit brought by the Justice Department.
The story began in 1999, when 20 workers complained to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the Department of Parks and Recreation had discriminated on the basis of race and national origin in assigning and promoting employees. The employees lawsuit, filed in 2001, had been in settlement negotiations since December 2006.
Senior Vice President Stephen A. Schneider’s expert analysis and testimony played an important role in the settlement. Working for the plaintiffs, Dr. Schneider and his staff calculated the losses in pay suffered by class members compared to Caucasian employees in the same job title, taking into account length of time in the job title, length of employment at the department, and length of employment with the city.
About 3,500 former and current employees are expected to receive monetary benefits from the settlement. Equally important, the city will change its promotion practices, establishing ways for employees to obtain a review of salary differences that they believe are discriminatory?and adjustments if disparities are not justified and the right to examine the process by which managers are selected, among other changes.