The city’s Department of Probation is a largely female, non-white workforce -- but the white men in the department make on average over $14,000 more than them, a new lawsuit against the department and the city alleges.
The current makeup of DOP is about 80 percent female, and more than 90 percent non-white, according to the pay discrimination lawsuit filed Monday by five Black and Latina officers and the United Probation Officers Association in District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The workforce demographics began shifting around the 2000s, the lawsuit said, and as the staff became predominately female and non-white, the department “began to suppress salaries while simultaneously increasing the requirements of the job,” the lawsuit said.
According to a 2017 report from the Public Advocate’s office, on average the male employees earned nearly $5,000 more than female employees, the lawsuit said. Among recent hires, men also made on average more than $2,500 more than the women, the lawsuit said, while average salary increases were nearly $1,000 higher for men than women. The United Probation Officers Association also hired an analyst from Precision Analytics who reported that white men, on average, are paid $14,500 more than women of color in the Department of Probation.
The department routinely hired non-white and female Probation Officers at the bottom of the pay scale, according to the lawsuit, and consistently hired white men as new employees instead of promoting internally. The department also began requiring that probation officers “execute their own warrants, and perform their own arrests without any training or police assistance,” a departure from the previous policy that specified a NYPD-trained unit handled warrants and arrests.
“Probation Officers do heroic work every day, balancing the need to keep our neighborhoods safe with giving New Yorkers involved in the criminal justice system a second chance. We are proud of how Probation Officers have stepped up during the pandemic, taking on additional responsibilities while risking their own health and safety in service to our city. But for too long our work has been undervalued because our members are predominantly women and people of color,” said Dalvanie Powell, President of United Probation Officers Association, in a statement from their law firm The Kurland Group.
“We understand that the city has tough budget decisions to make in the years to come. But this economic downturn has had a disproportionate impact on women and people of color, and it would be immoral to persist with pay discrimination in order to balance the budget. The city can either be part of the problem or part of the solution, and support hardworking civil servants who do essential work.”
The Department of Probation did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The new lawsuit comes after the United Probation Officers Association filed an action with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in June 2019, and the federal Justice Department ruled they had a right to sue. The association represents more than 800 DOP employees who work as Supervising Probation Officers, Probation Officers and trainees.