Queens Senator Toby Ann Stavisky called for an investigation into claims of racial discrimination at BioReference Laboratories toward Chinese-American employees.
The City released an investigative article on July 11 outlining allegations of unequal pay, unfair working conditions and disparities in benefits at offices in Manhattan, Flushing and Sunset Park.
According to the article, the six women who came forward are being represented by The Legal Aid Society, which filed federal discrimination allegations in late spring. The Legal Aid Society is prepping a lawsuit.
Stavisky is looking to get in touch with the women to work with them and learn more about their experiences. Stavisky said that BioReference has multiple companies under its umbrella and wonders if these practices are present in other offices.
“I just can’t believe this would occur in this day in age with the emphasis on inclusiveness and respect for diversity,” Stavisky said. “I just found this to be so mind-boggling that somebody would engage in this kind of behavior. The Human Rights Commission and other groups will have to determine if there is culpability.”
According to The City’s report, the women alleged that they were subject to menial tasks outside of their job descriptions. Meanwhile, non-Chinese co-workers were not performing those tasks and were paid more, according to the The City. Allegations also outlined strict sick leave policies that left them unable to take time off for medical conditions or pregnancies.
“This practice has to stop,” Stavisky said. “It’s illegal and these women are entitled to not only equal protection but equal respect if the allegations are true.”
BioReference had a $40 million contract with New York state correctional facilities and other smaller contracts with the state. BioReference has not responded to the allegations.
Stavisky wrote letters to the New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to call upon them to investigate the allegations.
“We should not be conducting business with a company who fails to treat their employees equally and properly,” Stavisky wrote in a letter to James and DiNapoli. “If the charges are found to have merit, I ask that it be classified as a hate crime.”
QNS reached out to the attorney general’s office and the state comptroller’s office for comment and is waiting for a response.