After dark-skinned Parks Department workers filed a discrimination suit claiming they were transferred out of Battery Park City in favor of white and light-skinned staffers, New York City has agreed to pay thousands of dollars to settle the matter.
The city denied any wrongdoing, but still reached a settlement agreement of $165,000 with the workers. They will get $8,000 each. The replacement workers will receive the same amount because they claim they were unwittingly put in the middle of a hostile situation.
According to the suit, there were months of tension between the minority workers and the well-off Battery Park City residents. Swastikas and graffiti calling the Public Enforcement Patrol officers “thugs,” “pigs” and “n-----s” started popping up on benches and walls, according to the Daily News.
Public Enforcement Patrol officer Charles St. Louis was one of the workers who filed suit. He said that residents were happy to see the workers hand out tickets to visitors, but became annoyed when they received the same tickets themselves for similar violations. “They’re okay with us ticketing teenagers on a bench for drinking in a park, but not when it’s their wine and cheese party on the grass,” he said.
62-year-old George Parker, a black worker, will get a payment of $14,000 because a white resident went after him in a fury after another park worker questioned why his dog was off-leash.
“I’ve been around a bit in my time, even Birmingham, Ala., and I’ve not seen much that was as bad as Battery Park City,” said Parker. “I got a lot of ‘I pay your salary’ and ‘You work for me’ when I tried to enforce the rules.”
City officials declined to comment.