The Chicago Employment Law Blog

Black YMCA Employees Claim Discrimination

According to a lawsuit filed against the YMCA, the Chicago-based organization "has engaged in systemic discrimination" against African-American employees, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reported. The two plaintiffs are former YMCA human resources executives; both are African-Americans.

The 51-page complaint, drafted by Illinois employment lawyers Johanna J. Raimond and J. Bryan Wood, alleges that black YMCA employees are under-represented in senior-level positions, are paid less, and and receive fewer promotions than peers of other ethnicities.

Plaintiffs are seeking certification as a class action in their employment discrimination suit, which FindLaw describes is a lawsuit in which numerous individuals claiming similar injuries by a common defendant join as plaintiffs.

According to the Law Bulletin article, plaintiffs say the YMCA began a pattern of discrimination around 2003. Disparities claimed in the complaint also allegedly led to a significantly higher turnover rate for black employees.

Also, the Law Bulletin reports that the lawsuit claims that the organization was made aware of the alleged problems, but did nothing to address discrimination-related complaints. Ms. Raimond told reporters that one of the plaintiffs filed a discrimination complaint with the CEO of the organization and that the other plaintiff supported the complaint. Within two weeks of receiving that letter, the lawsuit claims that the second plaintiff was terminated as an employee of the organization.

Ms. Raimond also told reporters that a 2005 salary review study commissioned by the YMCA concluded that the organization needed to make "salary equity adjustments for black employees" who were paid less than their non-black peers:

"This is a case where there is study after study after study saying there's a problem with the way African-American employees were being treated in the workplace, and the YMCA chose not to do anything about it."

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