The City of San Francisco has agreed to settle a Department of Parks and Recreation overtime discrimination suit for $250,000 pending approval from the city council, as reported in the Bay Citizen today.
The suit in question, Michael Horan v. City and County of San Francisco et al., was filed in the San Francisco Superior Court in 2009 by an employee of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The plaintiff Michael Horan had worked as a security guard for the Parks Department for a number of years. During his employment, Hogan alleged that workers were collecting overtime benefits for hours they had not worked, and that his supervisor discriminated against non-Asian Americans in the distribution of those hours.
Hogan filed a complaint with the Parks Department about the abuse of overtime hours and the discrimination in the allocation of those hours. After he complained, he immediately faced retaliation and retribution from the workers in his department. He was verbally abused and threatened with physical harm. His complaints to the Department were ignored, and in November 2008 he finally left his job, fearing for his safety.
In 2009 Hogan suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the City of San Francisco, alleging that the city illegally failed to protect him from retribution and to investigate his complaints of discrimination and retaliation. Hogan also filed a separate complain with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging inaction on the part of the City of San Francisco in investigating his claims.
The EEOC investigated Hogan’s claims of discrimination and retaliation and also ordered an audit by the city of the allocation of overtime hours. The agency discovered that there was indeed discrimination on the part of supervisors in the allocation of overtime hours in favor of Asian Americans. Hogan’s supervisor, for example, an Asian American of Chinese and Filipino descent took home $66,904 in overtime pay from 2011-2012, on top of his base salary of $53,107 and other benefits of $13,961. Hogan alleged that in addition to inflating his overtime hours, his supervisor also allocated overtime pay almost exclusively to Asian American workers. For example, Hogan, who is white, received less than 10 hours of overtime in 2009. In comparison, his supervisor received 1,558 hours and other Asian American colleagues received over 500 hours per year.
Hogan alleged, and the EEOC agreed, that the City of San Francisco wrongfully refused to investigate Hogan’s claims of discrimination and retaliation, allowing it to go on for years. To this date, the supervisor and other colleagues are still employed at the Department, even after the EEOC audit revealed numerous discrepancies in their claims of overtime. For example, the EEOC audit revealed that some workers would claim overtime even though they slept through shifts or did not even show up. Another found a worker claiming overtime even though he had two full jobs with the San Francisco city government.
If the city council approves it, this $250,000 settlement may at last make Hogan financially whole in repaying him for his lost wages after he had to leave his job. But the City of San Francisco’s complete refusal to take Hogan’s claims seriously until threatened by the federal government definitely shows the city has a long way to go in protecting all its workers from unlawful discrimination and abuse.