Friday, September 22, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Class Calls Chicago Transportation Dept. Racist

(CN) - A federal class action claims that a Chicago Department of Transportation supervisor commonly referred to black employees as "Mambo Gorilla" and "nigger," and segregated minority employees by assigning them to work only on the city's "gang-infested" South Side.

Lead plaintiff Patty Young, who has worked as a field specialist for the department since 1989, says she was called a "black bitch" and forced to work different hours than white employees by supervisor Joseph Annunzio.

Racism and sexism "pervades the culture" of the CDOT, Young claims, but nowhere more so than at the 2340 W. Ogden office, where Annunzio works.

Throughout 2005 and 2006, Annunzio, a field director, used racial and sexist epithets on a regular basis, calling Asians, Indians and Hispanics "fucking foreigners," and draping a cloth over his head while telling black employees that he was a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, Young says.

She says Annunzio sang a song called "Magilla Gorilla" in the presence of black employees while imitating a gorilla, and would make pretend gang gestures in front of them.

She says Annunzio forced nonwhite employees to work different hours and at desks segregated from white employees. And she says he forced nonwhite employees to work on the city's crime-ridden South Side and denied them promotions and raises.

Young says she complained several times to higher-ups in the department and the city government, but got nowhere.

After filing a complaint, Young says she was forced to reimburse the department for equipment stolen out of her car, in violation of policy. She was fired in early 2009 and was reinstated several months later, the complaint states.

Young and the class, which includes all nonwhite employees of the department in 2005 and 2006, sued the department, Annunzio and six administrators for racial discrimination, gender discrimination, retaliation and other charges.

The class seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and unspecified damages.

They are represented by Seth Halpern and Allison Chaplick with Malkinson & Halpern.

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