The Department of Justice is suing the city's Department of Transportation, but not over traffic or accidents. The lawsuit claims the DOT has never ever hired a female bridge painter. Apparently the DOT has not given a civil service exam for bridge painting since 1992 and the DOJ claims the city has "evaded" the process by hiring temporary painters. From the city's Civil Service website:
The City fills many of its positions through the Civil Service Process -- a process guided by the New York State Civil Service Law. The law is in place to help ensure that the hiring process is competitive and fair. Generally, the City uses examinations to measure a potential candidate's "merit" and "fitness" for the particular position. Taking an examination is the start of the hiring process that may lead to you getting a job with the City.
After each exam, the City establishes an "eligible to hire" list. This list consists of all candidates who pass the exam by rank order and is available to each City agency with open positions in the corresponding title. Candidates are contacted for interviews as the needs of these agencies require. New York State Civil Service Law requires agencies to review the top three scorers remaining on the list for appointment to a vacant position, a procedure known as the One-in-Three rule. Usually a list is active for four years.
The AP reports that since 1997, the city has only hired 13 of 56 painters who have applied; four women painters who applied were not hired.
The DOJ did try to settle the matter with the city, but wasn't able to. The city contends, "We are confident the court will determine that DOT's hiring practices for bridge painters comply with civil service requirements and are gender neutral." Maybe, but they will probably need to give another civil service exam soon.
Photograph of Brooklyn Bridge by oneiroi on Flickr