A new federal lawsuit accuses utility giant Consolidated Edison Co. of fostering a sexually hostile work environment and engaging in race and sex discrimination in promotion decisions, the Outten & Golden LLP law firm said.
Filed Wednesday in New York federal court on behalf of Monica Harwell, a 24-year employee at Con Edison, the lawsuit alleges that the utility continually denied Ms. Harwell promotional opportunities into field management positions and instead offered management positions to white men less qualified in their experience and education. Ms. Harwell holds two post-secondary degrees, a certificate in electrical engineering, and a wide range of field experience at Con Edison. She is African-American.
The utility’s conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York City Human Rights Law, according to the lawsuit. Con Edison, the utility provider of electric, gas, and steam service to more than five million customers in New York City and Westchester, faces similar allegations elsewhere.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently announced a joint settlement with Con Edison that requires the company to pay $3.8 million to resolve allegations of ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination against approximately 300 women employed in Con Edison’s field positions.
Attorneys Kathleen Peratis and Monique E. Chase, of Outten & Golden LLP’s New York office represent Ms. Harwell in the new lawsuit.
Ms. Peratis said, “Ms. Harwell has worked hard for Con Edison for more than 20 years and continues to do so, playing by the rules, bettering herself through education and experience at every opportunity. None of it has mattered to Con Edison, which speaks of equal opportunity while perpetuating the same old white men's club among its field management ranks. For herself and those who will come after her, Ms. Harwell seeks justice and accountability.”
Ms. Chase said, “Ms. Harwell can detail a plethora of incidents including physical harassment, and the use of racial and sexualized language used by her male colleagues in the field since beginning work at the company in the late 1990s. The evidence will show that Con Edison repeatedly failed to take corrective measures to address working conditions.”
The Harwell lawsuit seeks to recover lost pay, lost benefits, losses in pension and other benefits that are calculated based on pay, emotional injury, and other compensatory damages.
The case is “Monica Harwell v. Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.,” Case No. 15-cv-8511 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Attorney Contacts: Kathleen Peratis and Monique E. Chase, Outten & Golden LLP, New York, 212.245.1000, www.outtengolden.com.