In lawsuit, former MTA cops allege racial bias


Bad news for the MTA. A group of current and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officers are suing the MTA. They allege what The New York Times said is “a deeply rooted culture of discrimination against black and Hispanic officers.”

According to reports, the ten officers claim that minority officers are denied promotions and overtime work at a rate lower than that of white officers. Additionally, the suit claims that supervising officers often use racial slurs when addressing minority MTA police officers. The Times has more:

Detective Lilian Alvarado, one of the plaintiffs, said at a news conference that she had decided to come forward after her daughter told her she wanted to become a police officer. Detective Alvarado, who is Hispanic, said she did not want her daughter to face the same discrimination she had faced. “It didn’t matter how long I worked or how hard,” Detective Alvarado said. “I was ostracized.”

She was promoted to detective in 1994, 14 years after she joined the police force. The lawsuit said that many white officers were promoted in less than five years. It also said Detective Alvarado was denied the training necessary for rapid advancement.

In its defense, the MTA released a statement to the press promoting its diverse workforce. The statement noted that inorities make up 32 percent of the MTA police officers. “We are completely committed to a workplace free of any kind of discrimination or harassment,” the statement said.

But despite this token nod to diversity, the numbers sited in the lawsuit are stark in contrast. The aggrieved officers claim that 86 percent of sergeants, detective sergeants and lieutenants are white while 96 percent of those at a level of captain or higher are white.

While some of the instances of discrimination mentioned in the suit occurred ten or even twenty years ago, I would bet that the MTA police force is no haven of racial equality and harmony. The MTA CEO Eliot “Lee” Sander is new to the job, but he now inherits the problems raised here. It’s up to him to address these concerns, even if the MTA spin doctors want to keep on proclaiming their “workplace free of discrimination or harassment.” Let’s see it happen.

Categories : MTA Politics

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