NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SETTLES RACIAL
New York University recently reached a settlement in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against them September 2010. The suit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of Osei Agyemang, one of the employees in the university’s Bobst Library whose supervisor allegedly verbally harassed and insulted Agyemang.
An attorney from the EEOC light remarked that this case unfortunately illustrates how civil rights violations and employment discrimination can permeate even institutions like Universities that pride themselves on tolerance.
Agyemang, a Ghanian immigrant, worked in the mailroom of the library and his supervisor allegedly used racial slurs when referring to him such as “gorilla” and “monkey,” telling Agyemang to “get back in his cage” and asking him if he wanted a banana. The supervisor also called Agyemang’s accented speech “gibberish.”
The suit claimed that the supervisor mistreated Agyemang from July 2007 through January 2009, ending only when the university granted Agyemang’s request for a transfer. One of the allegations of the lawsuit was that Agyemang reported his supervisor’s behavior and the university took months to investigate the matter and ultimately did nothing to correct the situation.
Under the terms of the settlement, NYU will pay $210,000 to Agyemang for lost wages and emotional suffering. Additionally, NYU will have to effectuate new anti-discrimination policies and offer equal employment opportunity training sessions for employees, in addition to maintaining records of discrimination complaints and the university’s response to the complaints, which the EEOC will review regularly.
A spokesman for NYU claimed that such discrimination as was involved in this case is “extremely rare” at NYU and “totally at odds with the spirit of diversity and tolerance for which NYU is rightly known.”
Unfortunately, some New York employment law attorneys say that this type of behavior happens more frequently than people realize.