A former affirmative action officer for Southampton Town has filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights charging she was wrongfully terminated and the victim of institutionalized racism.
The Southampton Town Board voted Tuesday to hire Devitt Spellman Barrett, a Smithtown-based law firm, as outside counsel. Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst is individually named in the complaint.
Troge, a Shinnecock Indian, was employed as an affirmative action officer for Southampton Town in 2007 and also served as director of workplace policy and compliance until she was terminated in July 2010.
The resolution terminating Troge stated that the town sought to separate the duties of the affirmative action officer from other human resources activities and explore changes in town functions that would result in “greater efficiencies and cost savings.” The director of workplace policy and compliance position was abolished.
This year, Throne-Holst and the board created an affirmative action task force.
But Troge questions why her job was listed again this year as a part-time post and filed a complaint based on allegations that the town engaged in discriminatory practices.
“We’re not going to be commenting on any pending litigation claims,” Southampton Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said Thursday.
Troge said she hasn’t indentified a dollar amount in damages sought. She said her interest in filing the complaint centers on justice. She hired attorney Jeanne Mirer of Eisner & Mirer of New York.
Troge filed the complaint the Division of Human Rights, concurrent with a complaint based with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency.
Her objective, Troge said, is for the state to conduct an investigation into concerns that she was “wrongfully terminated in retaliation for my insistence that employees in the work force be treated fairly and equally under the law. It’s my contention that there are discriminatory practices and that those practices are institutionalized, based on my training.”
Most recently, she said, she was certified as a diversity professional by Cornell University.
“This is my life’s work,” she added. “I’ve been victimized throughout my upbringing in the town of Southampton, and my objective with the town of Southampton was to make a difference to the protected class.”
The protected class covers individuals in terms of discrimination due to gender, race, religion, disability and age, Troge said.
Bottom line, Troge said, “I want my job back.”
In her complaint, Troge charges the town attempted to discriminate against former town management services administrator Richard Blowes for a “perceived disability.”
Troge said she was discriminated against for advocating for Lisa Goree, a Native American deputy assessor for the town, who claimed she was receiving disparate compensation than her male counterparts.
The complaint states the town’s elimination of Troge’s position was an act of discrimination and retaliation against her for “vocally opposing the town’s discriminatory compensation of Goree by advising her that she should not accept more work for equal pay” as well as for “her refusal to participate in Throne-Holst’s attempt to cast doubt on the ability of Blowes to perform his job functions due to perceived disability and age.”
In addition, the complaint states that the only other individual to be terminated was former Town Housing Director John White, an African-American who .
Throne-Holst refused to comment.
Blowes, currently serving as executive director of the town’s housing authority, could not be reached for comment.