Saturday, January 05, 2013

Markowitz and former chief of staff cleared in discrimination lawsuit that pulled back curtain from office

Borough President Marty Markowitz and his former chief of staff have successfully fought a discrimination lawsuit by a former staffer, according to the New York Post, which had overdramatized charges as suggesting his office was like a "frat house."

The Post reported yesterday:
In a recent ruling, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash dismissed a 2007 lawsuit by Borough President Marty Markowitz’s former communications director, who claimed the gregarious official favored hiring men over women and let his chief of staff wrongly force her out of the job in favor of a younger male with less experience.
Ash found the office didn’t discriminate against Regina Weiss, adding that Markowitz and then-Chief of Staff Gregory Atkins had “legitimate” reasons for asking Weiss to resign — particularly “unsatisfactory [job] performance.”
A Markowitz spokesman said yesterday, “We are pleased the court carefully considered the facts of this case and concurred with what our office maintained from the very beginning: that this lawsuit was baseless.”
What it said about Markowitz

I haven't seen the ruling, but what I wrote in October 2011 still stands:
More than anything else, the lawsuit pulls back the curtain on Markowitz, showing he recognizes the division between policy and his "shtick," can be a "screamer" beneath his jovial exterior, practices retail politics by pumping out proclamations, blurs the already-fuzzy line between governing and campaigning, and obsesses about his Brooklyn!! promotional publication, which aims to mention or honor as many people as possible.
I had suggested that Weiss seemed to have a case, most notably because another staffer (younger, male) was permitted to go AWOL without consequence. But that apparently wasn't enough.

Plaintiff comments

I contacted Weiss by email, asking if she'd appeal, and whether the judge had addressed the apparent disparate treatment as well as charges that Markowitz had staffers do political work in the office. Her response:
There are facts in dispute that the judge seems to have ignored and assertions made by the borough president without any evidence having been presented, so I believe the case should go forward. I have not decided whether to appeal.... The decision doesn't address any of issues you mentioned.

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