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A group of Black and Hispanic supervisors filed suit against New York’s Sanitation Department yesterday, alleging that they were subject to discrimination and denied promotions.  The class-action suit filed in Manhattan Federal claims that while more than half of street-level Sanitation workers are Black and Hispanic, a scant percentage of supervisors are people of color.

The New York Daily News reported on the lawsuit and snagged quotes from three of the plaintiffs as they exited the court. “We still have a plantation mentality at the Department of Sanitation,” said supervisor Andrenia Burgis at a press conference held outside the Sanitation Department’s Manhattan headquarters Tuesday (February 12) afternoon. “They’re in the front and we stand in back.”

The group made a symbolic gesture of filing the lawsuit on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, hammering home the significance of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which grants equal protection to all citizens of all races. The suit asks for the agency to freeze all supervisory promotions until fairness is instituted, an outside monitor of promotion practices is placed and that all plaintiffs are paid damages of $1 million each.

The ordeal has been especially difficult for Sanitation worker Chris Burgos. “If you come to work every day and you get criticized for everything you do it’s hard to not succumb,” he shared. “You start to think, ‘Am I really that bad?’ You lose confidence.”

Photo: New York Daily News

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