New York Civil Rights Attorney Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., files a $15 million lawsuit alleging that the NYC Parks Department fosters a racially charged hostile work environment
Anthony Crum says working at the New York City Parks Department is no walk in the park.
The lawsuit alleges that the New York City Parks Department has a long history of discriminating against its minority employees. In 2008, the New York City Parks Department paid out $20 million dollars to settle similar claims involving former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern and current Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
Crum says “they apparently have not learned anything from the other lawsuit.”
On December 20, 2011, Crum, a dark skinned male, part Shinnecock and Blackfoot Indian, found a dark skinned Black doll hanging by its neck with a chain replicating a “Hangman’s Noose” in the garage at One Bronx River Parkway (Ranaqua, Bronx Parks Headquarters). Crum, startled and shocked, sought advice from a colleague. After speaking with a high level member of the Bronx management team, they headed to the garage, according to the lawsuit.
While in the garage, a high level member of the Bronx management team, snapped numerous pictures with his Department Blackberry and messaged and/or emailed them to his direct supervisor. Shortly thereafter, numerous employees from other locations began showing up and taking pictures of the articles.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Fariz Ahmemulic admitted to Crum and other employees that, he hung the doll as a “joke.” In a blatant attempt to cover up Mr. Ahmemulic’s racially offensive conduct, Supervisors Steve Saccomanno and Steve Yanolatos told him to remove the doll and the chain from the garage, according to the lawsuit. Crum alleges that Adrian Benepe tried to contain this case from leaking to the media and other watchdog groups. Adrian Benepe had knowledge of Mr. Ahmemulic’s racially offensive conduct.
Over the course of a few hours, Crum and other employees were interviewed by Park Enforcement Officers, under the direct supervision of high level management the lawsuit alleges.
According to the lawsuit, the New York City Police Department was not notified until several hours later at the behest of Adrian Benepe. When the police arrived, they removed the doll and chain from the premise. Crum is unaware if the police were made aware that the crime scene had been altered prior to their arrival. At some point, Crum also found out that the symbol “KKK” was scratched in a bathroom on the first floor.
Crum alleges that despite high level management’s knowledge of Mr. Ahmemulic’s conduct, he was not immediately suspended.
Crum says that this incident has left him emotionally shaken because of the nature of the Mr. Ahmemulic’s racially offensive conduct, the management’s lack of response to his conduct and the fact that this type of behavior has occurred in the past and it has never been effectively dealt with.
“Hopefully, the City does not prolong this matter and does the right thing by Mr. Crum” Eric Sanders says.
“Their actions are particularly egregious because the Parks Department and its employees apparently have not learned anything from its past acts of Civil Rights violations, that is unfortunate,” Sanders says.
Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., filed the Summons with Verified Complaint on August 15, 2012. The name of the case is: Anthony E. Crum v. The City of New York, et al., Index No.: 306827-2012, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of the Bronx.