City-run hospitals targeted older employees during a purge of 400 managers in 2017, according to a discrimination lawsuit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
People over 40 made up 86.3% of the Health and Hospitals Corp. managers laid off in June 2017 — even though people over 40 constitute just 80.4% of the agency’s managerial workforce, says the class action lawsuit filed by lawyers Joseph Aron of Brooklyn and Michael Taubenfeld of Manhattan.
The numbers are starker for laid-off managers over age 60. People between 60 and 70 years old represent 20.2% of Hospitals’ managerial employees — but made up 30.1% of those laid off, the suit says.
Jeffrey Wallach, 67, a Brooklyn resident who was assistant director of mental health services at Kings County Hospital, was one of the people fired. He’s the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“HHC has engaged in an intentional, companywide, and systematic policy, pattern, and/or practice of discrimination against its older employees,” the complaint says.
HHC may not have targeted older employees, Aron said in an interview — but the statistics show that the layoff had a “disparate impact” upon them.
“Disparate impact means you do something, and the result disproportionately affects a protected class,” Aron said. In this case, he said, the protected class is older managers.
Aron and Taubenfeld brought the case under the city’s Human Rights Law.
Aron also says that the city is hiding information that would support his discrimination claim.
The agency still has not responded to a July 2017 public records request about how the agency determined who would be laid off.
An HHC spokesman declined comment on the lawsuit, saying the city had not yet been formally served.
Cash-strapped HHC — which oversees 11 hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities in 70 locations across the five boroughs — has struggled for years with insolvency.
HHC head Stanley Brezenoff said at the time of the layoffs that they were necessary for the survival of the corporation.
By restructuring and reducing unnecessary layers of management, we can better direct resources where we need them most-at the front line of patient care. There will be no impact on services or patient care, quality, or safety," he said last June.