NAACP Sues the City
A local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is suing the City of Albuquerque, charging that it treats African-American employees poorly. Court documents allege African-American workers aren't promoted and are paid less. They also experience harassment and intimidation, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in District Court on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
Employees will sue the city as a class represented by the Law Office of Brad D. Hall. Details of who is involved in that class and their accusations have yet to emerge. The lawsuit does specify that African-American city employees are required to "perform menial and demeaning tasks" and to "adhere to unwritten policies and procedures," among other things. The lawsuit says there is a "pattern and practice" of these behaviors.
“Any large employer is going to have some unhappy employees, whether that unhappiness is valid or not."
Assistant City Attorney Rebecca Wardlaw
Assistant City Attorney Rebecca Wardlaw is handling the case. She says the city denies the charges emphatically. The city is an equal-opportunity employer, she says, and does not have a pattern of discrimination. Once hired, workers enter a job that has an associated pay grade, she says.
In June, the NAACP filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a national agency that enforces federal discrimination laws. After reviewing the case, the commission told the NAACP in September that it was within its rights to sue.
In response to the unequal pay allegation filed with the commission, the city offered up payroll records, says Wardlaw. "They do not indicate any sort of disparity such as what's alleged in the complaint."
Wardlaw says there have been other lawsuits brought against the city in which race was a factor. When employees file grievances, she says union reps or lawyers advise them to put themselves in a protected class, so they assert age, race or gender discrimination. "The city is a very large employer. Any large employer is going to have some unhappy employees, whether that unhappiness is valid or not."