State Senator Ana Quezada, who represents parts of Providence and North Providence, says in a lawsuit filed in federal court that when she brought up her concerns of suspicious behavior in hiring practices to a department director, she was disciplined but never given a clear explanation as to why she was being punished.
The senator further alleges that the city fostered and supported an environment of discrimination against minorities in the Building Department.
At the time of the incident Quezada was a housing inspector in the citys Department of Inspection and Standards, she was also a Steward for Laborers Local 1033.
One of the union members, a Hispanic employee named Rodis Rodriguez, was passed up for an open job and essentially a promotion that Quezada states Rodriguez was qualified for.
The lawsuit alleges that when the qualified Rodriguez applied for the job, the department suddenly decided it would not award to position to anyone and instead added new criteria to the job.
Quezada says she questioned Department Director Jeffrey Lykins over this suspicious implementation, which she claims was a rare thing for the city to do. The senator also claims that that move would not have been made if Rodriguez had been a white applicant.
Because of this confrontation, which the lawsuit claims was always cordial, Quezada was suspended for five days.
Quezada says that not only did she lose wages, but her reputation was also harmed because the suspension was widely known, but not the grounds for it.
She says in the lawsuit that the Building Department fosters an environment of discrimination against minorities and actively discourages complaints about how minorities are treated.
When asked to comment, a City of Providence spokesperson declined- stating the city does not comment on ongoing litigation.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Democratic state senator is suing the City of Providence, alleging that city officials retaliated against her after she accused a superior of discriminatory promotion practices against a Hispanic worker.
Sen. Ana Quezada, D-Providence, is accusing the city, for whom she works as a housing inspector in the Department of Inspection and Standards, of suspending her for five days after she challenged the treatment of an electrical inspector in her capacity as a steward for Laborers Local 1033.
According to the lawsuit, Quezada, who was reelected this week without opposition, on June 8, 2017 spoke with Department Director Jeffrey Lykins about her concerns that the electrical inspector, Rodis Rodriguez, had not been promoted, despite Rodriguezs “obvious qualifications.”
Rodriguez was the most qualified candidate for the position as an electrical inspector III, the suit says. The department, instead, decided not to award anyone the position when Rodriguez applied and announced that it would change the job criteria, Quezada alleges.
Quezada informed Lykins that she viewed the new testing requirement as suspicious because the city rarely changed criteria after a position is posted, the suit says. She says she told Lykins that some workers believed that the criteria would not have been changed if Rodriguez had been white and not Hispanic.
Quezada says that she then pointed out that the city had applied a different standard for a Caucasian worker, when filling a apprentice building inspector position.
The city determined that the conversation with Lykins was ground for disciplinary action against her, though she did not raise her voice or act inappropriately, the suit says.
The city held a disciplinary hearing but gave Quezada such short notice that she was late, the suit says. Official could not cite what rules she had violated and she again raised concerns with what appeared to be discriminatory practices within the department, she said.
Quezada accuses the city of fostering and supporting an environment that discriminates against minorities and “actively discourages complaints about how minorities are treated.”