$5.8M Settlement Reached Over Racism Allegations Against Chicago Water Dept

Photo: Getty Images

The city of Chicago has tentatively agreed to pay $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the Water Department of fostering a culture of racial discrimination and harassment, CBS News reports.

In the lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2017, 12 current and former Black employees of the Water Department alleged that they were humiliated, harassed, denied opportunities for advancement and additional pay, and threatened daily" by white supervisors and co-workers.

"It was plain to anyone who looked that the racism cascaded from the very top of the organization like water travels down a hill. The racism lasted for decades and affected countless Black employees, which raises the question of why the City's uppermost leaders failed to act. The sad and most obvious answer is that they did not care. Shame on them," attorney Victor Henderson said in a statement.

The lawsuit also alleges that white managers "communicated and knowingly condoned a policy to all of the supervisors within the Water Department that African-Americans were to be, or could with impunity be, treated with disdain, deprived of promotions, given less overtime, and harassed."

Black employees claimed they were required to train their white peers who would later be promoted while they were passed over for better jobs repeatedly.

Department supervisors also allegedly "established and promoted a pattern and practice of engaging in racially discriminatory remarks and actions against African-American employees," and disciplined Black employees who objected to the comments.

According to the lawsuit, some supervisors were fired for their behavior while others were allowed to resign or retire with full benefits.

The lawsuit comes after the City's inspector general launched an investigation into racist and sexist emails sent within the agency. Former Water Department commissioner Barrett Murphy resigned in May 2017 at the request of then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel amid the probe.

The probe uncovered emails that included racist jokes about former President Barack Obama, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Black NASCAR drivers.

The lawsuit was set to go to trial in less than a month before the $5.8 million settlement was reached last week. The settlement is still awaiting approval from the city council to be finalized.

The Black Information Network is your source for Black News! Get the latest news 24/7 on The Black Information Network. Listen now on the iHeartRadio app or click HERE to tune in live.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content