NYC nurses to get $20.8 million in gender bias settlement
The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District said the city had different standards for early retirement in male-dominated occupations
New York City will pay a group of nearly 1,700 nurses $20.8 million to settle a gender discrimination complaint filed by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The settlement is related to the city's past policy of allowing early retirement for municipal workers in "physically taxing" occupations, mostly held by men. The designation excluded nurses and midwives, who are primarily female.
Beginning in 1968, the city allowed certain workers in occupations,including emergency medical technicians, exterminators, motor vehicle dispatchers, window cleaners, foremen and plumbers, to make additional pension payments and retire with full pensions as early as age 50, after 25 years of service. But nurses and midwives with the same years on the job were required to work to age 55 or 57 to qualify for their full pensions. The policy applies only to people who joined the New York City Employees' Retirement System before April 1, 2012. Workers who were hired after that date don't have the option of retiring early.
The New York State Nurses Association, the state's largest union representing nurses, had requested that nurses and midwives be added to the list of physically taxing occupations on three occasions—in 2004, 2006 and 2008. All three requests were denied by the city Office of Labor Relations.
"The settlement is a victory for all nurses and a testament to the hard, physically demanding work that nurses do every day for those in need of care in the public hospitals," Anne Bové, a nurse at Bellevue Hospital for 40 years who was a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. "It is an acknowledgment of the injustice done to our sister and brother nurses who were denied recognition of the difficult nature of our work, all based on the discriminatory perception that nurses are mostly women and women's work isn't physically strenuous."
The union and four of its members filed a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint in July 2008, which "determined that there was reason to believe that the city engaged in disparate impact sex discrimination in violation of Title VII," according to the settlement.
The union noted that nurses stay on their feet for most of their shift, must lift patients and equipment, and are exposed to disease and sometimes violence in the workplace.
The city will not add nurses and midwives to the list of occupations eligible for early retirement as part of the settlement. That would force nurses to make additional retirement contributions, including retroactive payments, and some nurses still would be ineligible to retire early.
Nurses eligible to receive money from the settlement include those hired by the city from Sept. 15, 1965, to March 31, 2012. They could receive up to $99,000 depending on their years of service and how much earlier they could have retired.
The four nurses who filed the complaint in 2008 will receive an additional $100,000 plus attorney's fees.
"City nurses to get $20.8 million in gender discrimination settlement" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.
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