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A Forest Hills-based union that represents probation officers has filed pay discrimination charges against the city.

The United Probation Officers Association (UPOA), which represents 700 probation officers across New York City, is demanding that City Hall turn over records detailing salary information on city employees hired in certain titles since January 2009. The group filed the Article 78 petition on Sept. 7.

The UPOA represents Probation Officer Trainees, Probation Officers and Supervising Probation Officers throughout the city and its membership is largely non-white and female. Officials noted that their employees are paid significantly less than those in similar posts in other city agencies as well as Probation Officers in nearby counties, such as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk, who are also predominately non-white yet have the same educational requirements and experiences and who follow the same mandates set by the state.

“These women and men are true public servants who build a safer New York, who give people opportunities to turn around their lives and stay out of the justice system,” said Dalvanie Powell, president of UPOA. “But sadly, the city of New York is clearly showing that it is not committed to supporting our ranks and is ignoring the transparency one would expect from our government leaders. We have followed the proper channels to shine a light on a longstanding pay disparity that treats our members like second-class public servants, and unfortunately the city’s actions once again illustrate its cold-hearted approach to those seeking accountability.”

According to court notes, the city’s Department of Probation is the most diverse branch of law enforcement with more women and people of color in this department than any other law enforcement workforce in the city. However, “the pay for these members is significantly lower than other similarly situated employees of the city of New York in majority white and male titles.”

The action looks to confirm the disparities and further substantiate claims of discrimination based on race, sex and/or gender. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), which is responsible for maintaining this information, has denied the union’s requests, citing privacy concerns. However, the action states that one of the denials by the DCAS was not submitted in the mandatory time frame.

“This information is critical not only for these hard-working union members who deserve to be treated equally, but for the city, which is legally required to properly maintain this information to avoid the pitfall of discrimination which results in women and people of color of being undervalued and underpaid,” said Yetta Kurland, from The Kurland Group, attorneys for UPOA. “The city’s reasons for denying this data are unsupported by law and fly in the face of the city’s claims of being an equal opportunity employer. It’s clear that the city is once again going out of its way to avoid production of this data and is shirking the law. So we must ask: what is the city hiding, and why?”

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