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Post date: June 28 1999

Spitzer Settles Employment Discrimination Investigation Against The Town Of Huntington

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement of claims alleging racially discriminatory employment practices by the Town of Huntington, Long Island. The settlement takes the form of a new consent decree -- a court order directing certain relief, including financial, against the Town.

The new consent decree enjoins the Town of Huntington, and the Town of Huntington Highway Department specifically, from discriminating on the basis of race or retaliating against any employee who complains of such discrimination. It also mandates that the Town institute an Equal Employment Opportunity policy; provide its employees with an extensive employment discrimination training program; and implement an extensive employment discrimination grievance procedure, which includes binding arbitration for individual employment discrimination claims.

"I am committed to ensuring that no individual is discriminated against because of his or her race. This settlement is a crucial step to help us right past wrongs and protect New Yorkers in the future," said the Attorney General. "I intend to use the full enforcement powers of my office to safeguard all our residents from being victimized because of their sex, race, age, national origin, disability, or any other protected class."

The settlement is unique in that it affords relief -- including up to $10,000 per person -- to hundreds of current and former Huntington employees whose claims would otherwise be foreclosed by the statute of limitations. Under the new consent decree, persons employed by the Town from January 1, 1991 to March 31, 1996, will be contacted and offered an opportunity to participate in the grievance procedure. In addition, with respect to future claims, the settlement allows for employees to avail themselves of binding arbitration against the Town, with no caps on liability and full equitable relief.

In 1985, the Civil Rights Bureau filed a federal action against the Town of Huntington, alleging discrimination in hiring, promotion, and firing of Town employees. Ultimately, the Town entered into a Consent Decree with the Attorney General’s Office which included an injunction, permanently prohibiting the Town from discriminating against its employees.

Recently, the Civil Rights Bureau began receiving new complaints of discrimination from past and current Town employees. The pattern of complaints, and the Attorney General’s investigation, suggested that the Town might be in violation of the 1985 consent decree and that, in fact, discrimination might be taking place. These latest complaints, and the ensuing investigation, resulted in today’s settlement.

Assistant Attorney General Ruti K. Bell worked on this investigation under the direction of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and former Bureau Chief Chevon Fuller.