M&S Fights Against Racial Discrimination and for Diversity in the Workplace

October 23, 2018

by M&S Staff

Federal Judge Orders FDNY Race Discrimination Lawsuit to Move Forward


A federal judge ruled in late September that a race discrimination class action suit against the New York Fire Department can move forward. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a group of African-American New York Fire Department civilian employees, alleges a pattern of racial discrimination that cost them promotions and resulted in lower wages than their white counterparts.


The judge’s ruling frees the parties to commence formal discovery in the case. “We anticipate learning additional information that will improve our knowledge of the processes by which FDNY discriminated against African-American applicants and employees,” said M&S attorney Michael Lieder.


The judge ruled in favor of advancing the case, saying that the case carries merit due to statistical evidence presented. The evidence shows that FDNY employs far fewer African-Americans than other city agencies in the same job categories and that the disparities are especially pronounced in higher-paying job categories.


“We want to change the entire DNA so that it becomes a place where people rise up based on merit, it becomes a place where people are paid fairly, it becomes a place of equal opportunity,” said Cyrus Mehri when filing the suit at City Hall in December 2017.


Mehri & Skalet and Valli Kane & Vagnini filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven current FDNY employees in December 2017. The City promptly filed a motion to dismiss, which Judge Oetken denied in the ruling.


The suit has garnered interest from various New York City-based news outlets including the Chief, the New York Times, New York Daily News, and ABC7 and received coverage from the Associated Press and The Root.

USA Today Talks to Cyrus Mehri About the Rooney Rule


USA Today Sports highlighted the lack of minority representation in college football coaching. M&S partner Cyrus Mehri, who co-created the NFL’s Rooney Rule in 2003 and who has been advocating for the Rule’s adoption in the college ranks for over a decade, spoke to the publication about the “undercurrent” against progress in college football.


“Unless someone owns this issue and develops what we call a ‘ready list’ of coaches, the numbers are going to be flat,” said Mr. Mehri.


Change in college football has been sluggish. Since last season, 22 new head coaches have been hired in major college football. Only three of the new head coaches are of color and only one of those three was not already an FBS head coach. Black coaches represent a meager 11 percent of all head coaches.


The Rooney Rule has been instrumental in affecting change in the NFL, in which teams have promoted more minority head coaches and general manager candidates for open positions in recent years.


Industry experts believe that the underrepresentation of black coaches can be attributed to the lack of access to opportunities. Rooney Rule adoption would likely lead to a sustained change in college football by mandating that universities interview at least one minority candidate for head coach openings or suffer penalties for not complying.


Read the full article here.


Now on Medium: Making California’s New Gender Inclusion Law for Boards of Directors A Success


Following the newly signed California bill requiring the state’s corporate boards to include women, Cyrus Mehri penned a new post on Working IDEAL’s Medium page that outlines concrete steps companies can take to address organization and board diversity.


“By expanding the gender diversity of their boards, California companies will have a competitive advantage over companies based elsewhere,” writes Mr. Mehri in the piece.


Read the full article here.

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