Discrimination

$5.8 million settlement in lawsuit reached by attorney over claims of racism at Water Department

$5.8 million settlement in lawsuit reached by attorney over claims of racism at Water Department

The city of Chicago has agreed, but it is interim or provisional. The new trial will cost at least 8 million USD for the 12 Black staff of the Water Management Department who alleged that there was a culture of racist discrimination and harassment in the office.  

The suit, filed in 2017, asserts that the department created a “hostile and abusive work environment” where Black workers were subjected to humiliation and harassment, denied opportunities for advancement, and threatened daily by their white supervisors and colleagues.  

The lawsuit was settled about a month before the trial date and features processes of discrimination and non-payment of overtime and promotion rights of the staff. The deal must find its way through the floor and the chamber. 

Moreover, it has not been entered into the federal court; information on its alleged settlement has not yet been revealed. Vic Henderson, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said that “the racism in the organization was everywhere and came from the very top like water flowing from a high place to a lower place. 

This dissimilatory culture lasted for decades, and many of the Black employees might have been affected. The question is asked if leadership played a part in the city’s leaders’ actions.  

The shameful answer is “they didn’t care “. The lawsuit claimed that white employees in management roles in the Water Department exchanged and condoned discriminatory racial behavior against African American workers, whereby Black employees would coach their white colleagues to advance in grade. 

In contrast, Black employees stayed at the same place in the Water Department. Top department leaders were charged with developing and fostering a racially hostile environment among their victims that included words such as the N-word and other racial slurs toward African American employees.  

The settlement is the latest development in a case that revealed the toxic culture in the Water Department. Last year, the city inspector general’s office slammed the racial slurs passed between the top supervisors of the Water Department, and some high-ranking officials were laid off.  

Although managers took actions to avoid discrimination, the Niger et cetera denied Board members’ claims later in 2018. Allegations of racism have been heard among 20 different employees of Water Management; about five people testified at the City Council committee hearing in 2018 that the case is still unresolved.  

The settlement is a milestone in dealing with the race problems in the Water Department. Still, it also raises questions about what led the city’s top leaders to act late in addressing these allegations.  

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Nilanjana Basu
Nilanjana is a lawyer with a flair for writing. She has a certification in American Laws from Penn Law (Pennsylvania University). Along with this, she has been known to write legal articles that allow the audience to know about American laws and regulations at ease.

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