Are Employees Protected From Discriminatory Denial Of Overtime Opportunities?
Having represented employment discrimination victims for more than twenty years, our employment discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida know that many employees are discriminatorily denied overtime opportunities provided to their co-workers. Under federal employment discrimination law, workers are protected from discrimination with respect to the entire spectrum of the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. This means that employees are protected from discrimination with respect to all employment decisions, including employment decisions regarding overtime work assignments. In this article, our employment discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida explain how the decision in Milien v. City of New York, 2023 WL 6500119 (E.D. N.Y. Sept. 15, 2023) demonstrates that employees are protected from discriminatory denial of overtime opportunities.
Employment Discrimination Lawsuit
In that case, a man named Milien brought a race discrimination claim against his former employer, the City of New York Department of Education (“DOE”), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. Milien, who is African-American, claims that he was unlawfully denied overtime opportunities because of his race.
Milien was employed by DOE as a cleaner. Milien’s job duties involved “keeping tools in check, minor fixtures, changing light bulbs, and assisting cleaners.” During his employment, Milien worked at different times at schools Q-266, Q-129, and PS-129. Milien contends that he was discriminated against on the basis of his race in the assignment of overtime work. He maintains that he was denied weekend overtime work at school Q-129 that was, instead, given to his white co-workers when the overtime work should have been alternated. Milien claims that when he asked his supervisor, Lettieri, about why he was not included in the overtime rotation, the supervisor told him that “this is his school and if [Milien] did not like his rules, then [Milien] should leave.”
From July 2018 through January 2020, according to Milien, Lettieri would determine the extra hours or overtime work for school Q-129. The parties disagreed about the manner in which overtime opportunities are provided to employees. The DOE claims that overtime employees are assigned to employees based on a right of refusal by seniority. Milien, however, claims that Lettieri stated that weekend overtime hours were assigned on an alternating basis. Milien contends that “Lettieri did not alternate working weekends between the custodial staff.” In explaining the assignment of overtime work, Lettieri testified that “the guys work it out,” he did not assign particular types of weekend work to specific employees, and “everybody was pretty much on the same page.”
Between July 11, 2018 and January 2020, Milien worked 53.5 overtime hours at Q-129. Milien alleges that the last time Lettieri permitted him to work overtime at Q-129 was on February 17, 2019. In contrast, during the same period, one white employee worked 270 overtime hours at Q-129, and another white employee worked 333 hours of overtime at Q-129. Milien contends that given the disparity between his overtime hours and his co-workers’ overtime hours, he was denied overtime opportunities because of his race. In support of his contention that the disparity in overtime hours was motivated by race, Milien claims that Lettieri subjected him to a racist remark by allegedly referring to him as “boy.”
Discriminatory Denial Of Overtime
The DOE filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Milien’s race discrimination claim. In moving for dismissal, the DOE argued that there were legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for Milien’s overtime assignments because overtime assignments were made according to seniority. The DOE further argued that Milien was discriminatorily denied overtime because he was in fact given overtime work and Milien admitted the he did not take all overtime work that was offered to him. The trial court denied the DOE’s motion for dismissal and ruled that Milien was entitled to proceed to a jury trial on whether he was unlawfully denied overtime opportunities because of his race in violation of Title VII.
In support of its decision, the trial court focused on the disparity between Milien’s overtime hours and his co-workers’ overtime hours. The trial court observed the Milien’s “overtime hours at Q-129 differed markedly during the same period from the overtime hours of his co-workers of different races.” The trial court also observed that “deposition testimony reveals that overtime assignments were awarded in a discretionary manner which a jury could reasonably determine was afflicted by the racial prejudice [Milien] alleges.” The trial court determined that the disparity between Milien’s overtime hours and the overtime hours of his co-workers, “when considered in the context of [Lettieri’s] allegedly racist remark towards [Milien]” by purportedly referring to Milien as “boy,” was “sufficient to give rise to an inference of discriminatory intent in the assignment of overtime hours.” Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded, “a reasonable jury could determine that [Milien] suffered from impermissible race discrimination in the allocation of overtime work.”
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Citrus County, FL Discrimination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our employment discrimination attorneys in Cirtus County, Florida have litigated employment discrimination cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have been discriminated against at work or have questions about your rights as an employment discrimination victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our employment discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.