A former aide to City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) filed a lawsuit against her Monday alleging that he was underpaid and suffered discrimination because he was disabled during the time he worked for her.
“When the City Council discriminates, it’s unforgivable,” said Linda Cronin, attorney for Steven Castro, who is with the law firm of Cronin & Byczek in Lake Success, L.I.
Castro, who has cerebral palsy, filed suit in Brooklyn federal court against Ferreras, her deputy chief of staff Joselin Genao, the city of New York, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and the Council for $500,000 plus interest.
In the 30-page complaint, Castro alleges that during his employment with Ferreras from Sept. 7, 2009, until February 2010, he worked 40 hours a week or more but was not paid at all. He contends that when he complained to Ferreras in February, she reduced his work hours in retaliation and eventually only paid him a stipend of $3,425 for six months of work.
The suit says he was “constructively discharged” March 17, 2010.
Castro furthermore alleges reasonable accommodations were not made for his disability. Even though he had applied for a job he had allegedly been told was only desk work, he says he was made to carry heavy boxes. Castro also alleges Genao was hostile to him.
Cronin called the alleged discrimination “extremely sad.”
“They ran on a Democratic platform of perpetuating civil rights,” Cronin said.
In a statement, Ferreras did not respond directly to the claims, saying she had not been served a copy of the complaint.
“I can say, however, that I did not discriminate or retaliate against him for any reason and I am confident that his claims will ultimately be rejected by the court,” Ferreras said in the statement.
Castro’s claims have caused controversy for Ferreras in the past. At a late July street renaming in Corona, picketers showed up at the event and protested Ferreras’ alleged treatment of Castro.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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