University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wright v. Stern EE-NY-0190
Docket / Court 1:02-cv-04699-DC-MHD ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Special Collection IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study
Private Employment Class Actions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On June 18, 2002 the United States filed a lawsuit under Title VII in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the City of New York and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, alleging that the Department of Parks and Recreation engaged in a pattern or ... read more >
On June 18, 2002 the United States filed a lawsuit under Title VII in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the City of New York and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, alleging that the Department of Parks and Recreation engaged in a pattern or practice of race and/or national origin discrimination in making promotion decisions. The United States sought remedial and injunctive relief.

Specifically, the United States contended that the Parks did not follow its stated policy in posting vacancy notices when a job opened for a managerial position. Furthermore, the United States alleged the defendant did not follow its stated EEOC policy of conducting panel interviews and using a prescribed rating system in promoting employees. Instead, Parks used its "Class Of" program in furtherance of its alleged pattern or practice of discrimination against black and Hispanic employees, creating a separate promotional track for white Class Of participants whom Parks recruited directly from college. In comparison to Parks' overall workforce, the composition of the Class Of program was disproportionately white and non-Hispanic. Class Of members who chose to continue their employment with Parks routinely and swiftly had been promoted into high level permanent positions throughout the agency over equally or more qualified black and Hispanic veteran employees. Parks promoted Class Of participants to management positions for which it never posted vacancy notices, sought applications, or conducted a formal interview process, and certain management positions were created specifically for Class Of recruits, so that it was impossible for anyone else to apply, interview, and be considered for the positions. The individual plaintiffs alleged that they were equally or more qualified than these whites and would've applied for the position had they been given the opportunity, and that they suffered retaliation after complaining of discrimination at the Department of Parks and Recreation.

In a related case Wright v. Stern begun in May 24, 2001, there were additional claims of discrimination. In addition to the claims stated above, the plaintiffs alleged that the DPR (Department of Parks and Recreation) engaged in disparate treatment by concentrating Black and Hispanic employees in neighborhoods with a predominantly minority population. Plaintiffs claimed to have been offered assignments only at DPR locations in minority populated areas and denied assignments in, or transfers to, predominantly "Caucasian" areas. Plaintiffs alleged that racial segregation also existed within administrative offices, such that "Caucasian" employees occupied perimeter offices while African-American and Hispanic employees were clustered at work stations in the middle of the floorspace. Plaintiffs also alleged that they were forced to work in a racially hostile environment in which employees made racially derogatory remarks and nooses were displayed in DPR facilities.



On January 14, 2003, plaintiffs' application to compel further discovery response from defendants was granted in its entirety. US Magistrate Judge Dolinger held that personnel files maintained by department's deputy commissioner were subject to disclosure, and deputy commissioner's business calendars and notebooks were subject to disclosure. On July 9, 2003, in the Southern District Court of New York (Judge Chin) granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification for present and former Parks and Recreation Hispanic and African-American employees. On June 8, 2005, the plaintiffs and the defendants agreed to enter into a consent decree and judgment in favor of United States of America against City of New York and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

On September 15, 2006, the defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part. Judge Chin dismissed plaintiffs' claims of racially hostile environment on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not present enough evidence from which a reasonable jury could find a systemic culture of racial harassment or that that harassment was standard operating procedure at Parks. Judge Chin also dismissed plaintiffs' claims of discriminatory assignment of employees (segregation) and underfunding on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence that it was Parks' standard operating procedure to make assignments based on race or engage in a policy, pattern, or practice of underfunding parks in predominantly African-American or Hispanic neighborhoods. However, defendants' motion to dismiss claims of discrimination in promotion and compensation, as well as retaliation, was denied.

On February 25, 2008, the parties finally reached a settlement agreement, which contained both injunctive and monetary relief. Among other things, it enjoined Parks from "unlawfully discriminating against any employee based on race, color or national origin with respect to salary, compensation, or in making compensation decisions." It also provided for the City to pay about 11 million dollars in settlement of all monetary claims.

On May 15, 2008, the Court (Judge Chin) finally approved the settlement agreement and the case was dismissed.

Kunyi Zhang - 10/12/2010


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Provide antidiscrimination training
Retaliation Prohibition
Defendant-type
Parks
Discrimination-area
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Retaliation
National Origin/Ethnicity
Spanish
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of Latino and African-American Parks and Recreation employees
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2005 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:02-04699 (S.D.N.Y.) 06/13/2005
EE-NY-0190-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:02-04699 (S.D.N.Y.) 10/07/2009
EE-NY-0190-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 06/18/2002
EE-NY-0190-0001 PDF | Detail
Discovery Order 01/14/2003 (2003 WL 136090) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0190-0006 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Order 07/09/2003 (2003 WL 21543539) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0190-0005 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion 09/15/2006 (450 F.Supp.2d 335) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0190-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Stipulation and Order 05/15/2008 (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0190-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Opinion 05/15/2008 (553 F.Supp.2d 337) (S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0190-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chin, Denny (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0003 | EE-NY-0190-0004 | EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9000 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Dolinger, Michael H. (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
EE-NY-0190-0006 | EE-NY-0190-9000 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beldock, Myron (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)
EE-NY-0190-0001
Comey, James B. (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0001 | EE-NY-0190-0005
Goldman, Steven F (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Reyes, Ramon E. Jr. (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0001 | EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9000
Rollings, Cynthia (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0003 | EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Steel, Lewis M (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0003 | EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9000 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Stroup, Robert H (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0003 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Woods, Melissa S (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Yankwitt, Russel Marc (New York)
EE-NY-0190-9000
Yetzer, Jody Lynn (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Zornberg, Lisa R (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0001 | EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Butler, Barbara B. (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0005 | EE-NY-0190-9001
Cardozo, Michael A. (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0003 | EE-NY-0190-0005
Comfrey, Kathleen M. (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0003
Rosenberg, Sherri R. (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0002 | EE-NY-0190-0003
Wong, Kit (New York)
EE-NY-0190-0005
Other Lawyers None on record

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