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New York Fire Department accused of race discrimination

Enduring situations of discrimination can be difficult for individuals in New York and elsewhere; however, this can be especially challenging for those confronted with discrimination in the work place. This does not only make for a hostile work environment but could also cause the employee to suffer emotional, mental and financial damages.

In August of this year, ten black civilian employees from the New York Fire Department filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the agency of engaging in a "pattern and practice of systemic, ongoing, continuous and intentional discrimination." They made their complaint public October 12, outside City Hall.

The employees claim that they were denied promotions and raises, which were given to their white coworkers and accused the agency of retaliating against them at times. According to a lawyer for the workers, they are also planning on filing a federal class action lawsuit against the city's fire department. Fire Department Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro, addressed the complaints, stating that the agency works hard to assure that all workers are treated equitably.

This is not the first time that the department has come under fire with allegations. In 2007, a group of black firefighters claimed that entrance exams were biased against minorities. The department settled the claim in 2014, paying approximately $100 million dollars to applicants in back pay and benefits.

The current complaint states that black civilian employees routinely receive lower salaries and are overlooked when issuing raises and promotions. It also claims that there is a pattern of harassment and a hostile work environment.

It remains to be seen how this will play out, but the claims against the fire department are undoubtedly disturbing. Race discrimination is a serious offense, and employees should not take any form of discrimination lightly. It is important to address all forms of discrimination and harassment immediately, taking proactive steps to protect yourself, your job, and your coworkers.

Source: New York Times, "10 Black Employees at New York Fire Department Cite Bias," Colin Moynihan, Oct. 12, 2016

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