A day after NBC New York revealed that a high-ranking MTA employee was promoted despite complaints from colleagues about him appearing in blackface at a party, the MTA has finally suspended him. Metro-North supervisor Richard Ranallo is still being paid however.
Ranallo was photographed wearing a blackface costume for a Halloween party in 2013. One MTA employee who worked under him, Randy Morgan, told NBC New York, "It's kind of like wearing a KKK outfit, just kind of screams at you... Racism isn't something that people wear proudly. It's kind of insidious." Morgan and four other employees made a complaint to Metro-North's diversity office, but all it did was require Ranallo to take five days of sensitivity training. Then, in 2014, he was promoted to become a supervisor.
After the report aired, MTA chief Joe Lhota denounced Ranallo's actions as "racist." And then, NBC New York reports:
Morgan reacted to the decision
Richard Ranallo was asked to leave a Tarrytown facility Wednesday morning and told to hand in his identification and keys, sources told the I-Team. He was sent home and off the job, with pay.
An MTA spokesman told the I-Team Ranallo is "being withheld from service indefinitely while we assess our options."
, "Richie being put out of service, all well and good, he deserves it, but you're still not addressing the real problem... I kind of feel bad for Richie -- he is what he is -- but those people that I mentioned enabled him."
The Post says Ranallo made $246,255 last year and that the agency is "going to see what kind of discipline Ranallo’s labor contract allowed."
A labor attorney had explained why the MTA might be able to fire him, "Public employees do have very strong free speech rights and can say a lot of things on their own free time... [but] the court is not gonna find much value in dressing up in blackface... When somebody says something extremely racist that's going to be disruptive, that's when the public employer can terminate or discipline, even though what they said was on their private time."