Black Man Whose Job Was to Investigate Discrimination Sues NY State, Claiming He Lost Job Because of Discrimination

The New York Department of Taxation and Finance is facing a civil rights lawsuit from its former director of diversity and affirmative action, Joseph Brooking, 60, who claims he was forced into early retirement because of the racism directed at him.

Brooking’s lawsuit, filed on Friday, alleges racial discrimination is a problem in the Buffalo office of the state agency.

As the director of diversity and affirmative action, Brooking said the white employees were against him and his team being the ones to handle discrimination complaints. Consequently, he claims that he and his team of investigators, which was predominantly black, were stripped of their abilities to investigate discrimination complaints.

Brooking told his bosses that disciplinary action was needed to show the department was serious about rooting out discrimination, but instead a week later Commissioner Thomas Mattox told him he had to retire or be fired, according to a story in the New York Post.

Brooking said he was forced into early retirement because of “racial animus” toward him and other black staffers.

According to the suit, which seeks an unspecified financial reward, this was not the first time Brooking and his teams have had issues with the department. It mentions that the department had stripped Brooking and his team of their ability to investigate discrimination complaints and gave the job to the internal affairs division.

In 2013, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission resolved 33,978 cases of alleged race-based discrimination; 24,175 of the cases were resolved because there was no reasonable cause, compared to the 957 cases where there was reasonable cause. There was $112.7 million in monetary benefits settled last year in race discrimination cases.

The suit reaches beyond the Buffalo office and alleges racial and gender discrimination are common problems in the agency. An audit manager at the Brooklyn office was told that Brooking prefers hiring Asian employees because they are “docile and obedient,” according to The Post.

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