NYC pays $2.1m to settle lawsuit alleging racial bias against white supervisors

The settlement ends a five-year legal battle over allegations of racial bias in demotions under previous city leadership.

NYC pays $2.1m to settle lawsuit alleging racial bias against white supervisors
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New York City has agreed to pay $2.1 million to three former white Department of Education executives who alleged they were demoted due to their race in favor of less qualified candidates of color.

The payouts of $700,000 each to Lois Hererra, Jaye Murray, and Laura Feijoo resolve a $90 million lawsuit filed in 2018. The former officials accused the education department under then-Chancellor Richard Carranza of discriminating against them based on race as part of a push for racial "equity," the New York Post reports.

According to the lawsuit, Hererra, a Harvard graduate who was executive director of the Office of Safety and Youth Development, was replaced by a black man with only a GED. Murray had to report to her new subordinate after being demoted three levels down from her prior executive director role. Feijoo, who supervised all superintendents, was passed over for a deputy chancellor position by a black subordinate lacking the required qualifications.

In sworn testimony, Carranza and former Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged wanting the education workforce to "look like New York City" racially. An internal email cited Carranza as fixated on diversity, allegedly threatening those who questioned his "equity platform" to "get on board or leave."

While not admitting wrongdoing, the city opted to settle after a judge found "evidence of race-based discrimination" three months ago, with a trial scheduled for June.

"This settlement is a resounding affirmation that discrimination should not be tolerated, regardless of the race impacted," said Davida Perry, the plaintiffs' lawyer, adding her clients "feel justified and vindicated."

The Department of Education maintains the "claims lack merit" but settled in the "best interest of all parties." Hererra has retired, Feijoo departed years ago, while Murray stays employed with diminished duties.

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  • By David Menzies

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