SARATOGA SPRINGS: Race charges prompt probe

In the wake of a ruling made by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, that officials in the city's public works department discriminated against a black former employee, Department of Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue says there will be an investigation into who in City Hall leaked details of the ruling to media.

This is confidential information, and to leak it to the press is a criminal act, said McTygue in a Tuesday, Oct. 23, interview. He noted that the ruling was handed down more than a month ago, but media reports had not occurred until this past week. "Why make charges two weeks before a general election? There was only one department that had any knowledge of this investigation and that was the mayor's office."

EEOC literature states that if a discrimination lawsuit is filed, "both the Charging Party and the Respondent will have access to the investigative file." It also states the lawsuit becomes a part of the public record, but EEOC officials were unable to return calls for clarification.

Mayor Valerie Keehn said her office did not speak to media about the case. City Attorney Michael Englert refused to comment on any aspect of the EEOC ruling, resulting conciliatory proceedings or an investigation into the leak.

The ruling on the EEOC case involving former part-time laborer, Henry L. Smith Jr., also states the DPW released confidential information about him in retaliation for filing a complaint.

Smith alleged that department officials violated his civil rights by repeatedly passing him over for promotion to full-time laborer from part-time because of his race. The suit also alleged the department had not promoted a black employee to full-time in five years.

The decision, issued by Elizabeth Cadle, director of the EEOC's Buffalo office, leaves the city open to settlement costs in the year-old case.

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