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Disabled Department of Finance Staff Targeted for Layoff

Author: District Council 37

Original Publication Date: 2011-05-05

Synopsis and Key Points:

Employees of the New York City Department of Finance file lawsuit in NYS Supreme Court charging that plans to lay off city workers violate Human Rights Law.

Main Digest

Disabled Department of Finance Staff Targeted for Layoff File Lawsuit in New York Supreme Court Charging Violation of City's Human Rights Law.

District Council 37, which represents workers, says DOF layoffs disproportionately impact the disabled

On Monday, May, 2, 2011, 37 employees of the New York City Department of Finance filed a lawsuit in the NYS Supreme Court charging that plans to lay off city workers, all of whom are disabled, violate the City's Human Rights Law. The layoffs are slated to take place on May 6, 2011.

Defendants in the lawsuit are the New York City Department of Finance, Department of Finance Commissioner David Frankel, the City of New York and Michael R. Bloomberg as Mayor of New York.

Initially, in November 2010, the Department of Finance, which has a workforce of roughly 2,300 employees, announced its intention to layoff approximately 129 employees. Of those employees, 78 held the entry-level job title of Office Machine Aide (OMA) performing a variety of tasks that include data entry, clerical work, handling mail and assisting with the public. They earn approximately $35,000/year. All of those employees have worked at the DOF for close to a decade.

Historically, the title of Office Machine Aide (OMA) has been used by the DOF to employ persons with disabilities. An overwhelming majority of the OMAs slated for layoff participate in the city's 55-A program which permits the disabled to obtain civil service status without having to take competitive exams. In fact, many were first employed at the DOF as participants in FedCap, a nonprofit organization whose mission was to provide training and job placement for the disabled.

Each of the DOF employees has a diagnosed disability, which includes disabilities from deafness, dyslexia, diabetes, and vision impairment to HIV status and liver disease.

They are represented in court by attorneys from their union, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, and James A. Brown, from the law office of Brown & Gropper LLP and are seeking a preliminary injunction to enjoin the May 6th layoffs pending the outcome of their disability discrimination lawsuit.

District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees.

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