Commission Says Female Applicants for Bridge Painter Position Were More Qualified Than the Men Actually Hired

New York, New York September 17, 2003 - Following charges of discrimination filed in May of 2002, by the Structural Steel and Bridge Painters of Greater New York, Local Union 806, and four female Bridge Painters, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found reasonable cause to believe the New York City Department of Transportation discriminated against four female applicants for the position of Bridge Painter. The women and Local Union 806, their union, alleged that the Department of Transportation refused to hire female applicants referred by Local 806 to the DOT for the position of Bridge Painter and instead, hired less qualified male applicants.

“This decision confirms what we’ve known for years,” said Local 806 Business Representative, Angelo Serse. “There is no place for discrimination of any kind, and the fact that it’s a municipal agency makes it even more disgraceful. Hopefully this ruling will pave a path of employment opportunities for many other qualified female Bridge Painters in the future.”

The charges alleged that in each year since 1998 the Department of Transportation interviewed for Bridge Painter positions and, during that time, the four women submitted resumes as applications. In 1999, no female applicant was granted an interview. In 2000, only one of the women was interviewed. She was not hired and was also the only female interviewed for a Bridge Painter position. In 2001, again, only one female applicant was interviewed and she too was not hired.

At the time of their applications, all four women had been employed as Bridge Painters in the private sector for several years, were graduates of certified apprenticeship program and met the DOT’s requirement of sixty months experience. According to the Complainants, eight newly hired, male employees were not apprenticeship program graduates and at least one male employee did not have sixty months of experience. The EEOC agreed that the four women were more qualified than some men actually hired stating that “the record shows that [the Complainants are] more qualified than at least three of the males hired...”

One Complainant also alleged that after learning that she would not be interviewed in 2000, she called the DOT’s personnel office and was told that she would not be interviewed because she did not have a commercial driver’s license. Although such a license is required for the Bridge Painter position, the Complainants alleged that the DOT hired thirteen male Bridge Painters in 2000, that at least three of them did not possess the license when hired, that these men were given a grace period to obtain the license during which they were permitted to work at full pay and benefits and that no female applicant to the Bridge Painter position has ever been afforded this opportunity. In fact, in the history of the DOT, no female has ever been employed in the Bridge Painter civil service title.

The EEOC’s decision includes an invitation to the parties to engage in conciliation. According to the attorney representing Local Union 806 and the four female Bridge Painters, Howard Wien, of Koehler & Isaacs LLP, a demand for placement, as well as salary and benefits back to the date the complainants submitted their resumes, was filed with the EEOC immediately after the reasonable cause determination was made.