A former part-time Department of Public Works laborer has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city.
Meanwhile, informational packets concerning the case were distributed to several media outlets this week. Thomas McTygue and his brother, Bill, the department's director, have blamed Mayor Valerie Keehn's office for distributing the packet outlining the lawsuit. Keehn denies the charges.
Henry L. Smith, 29, of Saratoga Springs, is a former part-time laborer who says in his claim he was passed over for promotion to full-time work because he is black. According to papers filed in August with the state Division of Human Rights, Smith said, (The city) has repeatedly overlooked me for promotion to a full-time position. The latest instance of this happened in June 2006 when it hired a less-qualified white person to fill a full-time position.
Smith was classified part time, but worked full-time hours with no benefits on the DPW's street crew from March 29, 2004 to June 23, 2006. He started out at $8.50 per hour, which was increased to $9.50 in 2005.
Public Works Director Bill McTygue said the suit is baseless. "We have more minority employees than all the other departments combined," he said. "I'm confident that the city will prevail."
The DPW has more than 100 employees, including street crews, the recreation department and water treatment plant. Bill McTygue said he's unsure exactly how many are minority employees.
He said DPW officials discussed Smith's attendance record with him in a counseling session and that he left work and never came back. Bill McTygue said Smith was not fired.
He said the DPW has a number of part-time people who work full-time hours. "The city budget can't afford to make everybody full time," he said, adding the DPW makes people full time based on their work record with the department.