A New York City sanitation worker was forced to leave his job and pay a $1,500 fine for accepting a $20 tip to move some heavy trash.
Lenworth Dixon, 56, had worked for New York City Department of Sanitation for 24 years, earning a salary of $73,000 a year. The father of three was spotted accepting a cash tip — and ordered to pay a hefty fine by the city’s Conflict of Interest Board.
Civil servants are not allowed to accept any form of cash or gifts.
“It is a harsh punishment, but they don’t tolerate taking money from the public,” Harry Nespoli, president of the Sanitation Workers Union, told the New York Daily News.
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Dixon was given the twenty by a resident as a gesture of appreciation for removing heavy furniture and other “bulk refuse” outside a Queens single-family home in September, according to officials.
Nespoli said that Dixon might have been exposed by a hidden camera installed by the city to catch workers taking tips.
“We’re not allowed to take any money, even at Christmas time,” said Nespoli. “We don’t work for the post office.”
That’s because the city charter doesn’t distinguish between a bribe and tip, the New York Post writes. According to the charter, public servants must not accept “any gratuity from any person whose interests may be affected by the public servant’s official action.”
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Last June, two sanitation workers were fined $2,000 each for splitting a $10 gratuity, the Daily News reported. Both of them retired after the incident.
“I don’t want to have anything to do with the city ever again,” said sanitation worker Robert Bracone, a 26-year veteran.