FDNY Settles Race Suit

April 7, 2005 -- The city has settled a discrimination suit filed by a black Fire Department employee who claimed he was denied a promotion and punished because of his race, The Post has learned.

McLaughlin Harris, 50, an assistant architect, alleged he was passed over for supervisory positions in favor of a less-qualified white candidate.

As part of the settlement, the city agreed to promote Harris and to pay him $50,000 in lost wages and other damages, according to court papers.

He remained an employee in a civil-service position after filing the complaint.

The FDNY has long been under fire for the small number of minorities on the force.

The Justice Department has launched a probe into alleged hiring discrimination in the FDNY, where whites make up more than 90 percent of the s 8,700 firefighters and 97 percent of its supervisors.

Harris, hired in 1998, helped maintain the department's numerous firehouses and other facilities.

In the suit, Harris said his immediate supervisor, Gerrit Geurs, recommended him to succeed him as construction coordinator.

Geurs believed Harris was more qualified than a white candidate who had less experience and who had been given a "subpar" job-performance rating, according to legal papers. Geurs is white.

But the chief supervisor, Joseph Mastropietero, who is also white, promoted the white candidate in 2001 instead of Harris, who was not even interviewed for the job.

Harris also said he was harassed after filing civil-rights complaints with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC report concluded that Harris wasn't promoted "because of race."

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