New York City has agreed to pay more than $20 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit charging that the Department of Parks and Recreation systematically discriminated against black and Hispanic employees in awarding jobs and setting salaries, according to the New York Times. The details should sound familiar to anyone’s who knows about racial discrimination. Reports are that under Henry J. Stern, the long-serving commissioner of the Parks Department, routinely rewarded a “coterie of inexperienced white workers with plum assignments at the expense of experienced black and Hispanic employees.” In addition, white employees earned more than black and Hispanic workers performing the same jobs, and those who complained faced punishments like being reassigned to dusty basement desks or to an office far from home.
Mayor Bloomberg is, according to the Times article, “eager to move beyond the accusations of discrimination.” The mayor also used the sort of distancing rhetoric so frequently used by white liberals when he says:
“It was something that took place a long time ago, and I think we are satisfied that our procedures today in that department and I think in all departments do not discriminate against anybody.”
In this instance, a “long time ago” is 1999. I doubt seriously that it seems like ancient history to the 3,500 employees involved in the class action suit.