MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge found that New York City and its Department of Transportation intentionally discriminated against women by “systematically excluding” them from work as bridge painters, and hiring unqualified men instead. The judge found the city did this “to preserve a de facto boys club in which lewd sexual images and cartoons were frequently displayed and employees disparaged their female supervisor, apparently without consequence.”
In a 43-page ruling after a 4-day trial, U.S. District Judge William Pauley wrote that while discrimination cases usually rely on statistical evidence, this case did not need more than “the elephant in the room: the incontrovertible fact that DOT has never hired a provisional female bridge painter.”
“Regardless of the weight given to the total absence of female hires, the remaining anecdotal evidence was more than sufficient to show that DOT lacked consistent hiring standards in the bridge painter section, that less qualified men were given preferences over more qualified women, and that the disparate treatment was intentional appeasement of DOT’s existing all-male workforce.”
Judge Pauley found that the evidence against DOT “jump(ed) off the page.” He said the department repeatedly expanded its applicant pool because of alleged lack of interest, while turning away qualified, experienced women.
“Throughout three consecutive DOT vacancy periods, every female applicant for the bridge painter position was subjected to less favorable treatment than lesser qualified male applicants,” Pauley wrote. “In addition, word-of-mouth recruiting and nepotism in DOT’s hiring practices reinforced existing gender disparities.”
Bridge painting director Leonid Levitt wrote after interviewing one woman that she appeared “irritated,” “erratic” and “confrontational,” Judge Pauley wrote.
Pauley said there will be a hearing to determine victim-specific compensation and job placement.