NYC Department of Education Faces Suit Charging Age, Race, Religious Discrimination, Retaliation, Defamation and Libel

The New York City Department of Education is being sued by a teacher who claims he was subjected to age, race and religious discrimination, retaliation, defamation and libel by his supervisors.

Todd Young was hired by the Department of Education in 2004 as an English teacher, according to the complaint. The last four years he taught at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. He claims he received consistent “satisfactory” and “effective overall” evaluations for all those years until the 2015-16 school year.

In 2016 the High School of Art and Design was assigned a new principal, Manuel Urena. Young claims he received an “effective overall” rating Urena’s first year as principal.

Young claims he received his first “ineffective” rating in May 2017. He further claims he found himself in “an increasingly hostile environment under Principal Urena.” In response, Young emailed harassment complaints to the district union representative, Urena, and the district superintendent. 

Young, who is Jewish, claims that Urena targeted several Jewish teachers as well and denied them time off for religious holidays. He also claims that, at 62, he is the oldest teacher at his school and that Urena also targeted many older teachers, causing some of them to leave.

Young, who claims to be Caucasian as well as Jewish, claims that Urena and other supervisory employees are either Dominican or Hispanic and that “[s]ince Principal Urena and his administration have arrived at the school, he has targeted many Caucasian teachers at the school, and has overwhelmingly hired Hispanic teachers to replace Caucasian teachers.”

Since Urena’s arrival at the school, Young has “received substantially lower ratings with many sudden and arbitrary ineffective ratings,” has “received a barrage of unjustified disciplinary letters,” has been falsely accused of violent behavior, and that Urena caused him to be involuntarily sent for a mental health evaluation with the department’s medical bureau, but was immediately cleared, according to the complaint.

Young claims that after filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge in January 2018 claiming age, race, and religious discrimination, he received at least four disciplinary letters from the administration. He was then reassigned from his teaching duties and out of the school. In March 2018 he received charges seeking to terminate his employment containing seventeen different purported reasons.

Young claims that he “is a victim of repeated race, age, and religious discrimination based on Principal Urena’s actions against him, and retaliation based on filing such protected complaints against the [department].” He also claims Urena and others disseminated false personal and professional information about him with knowledge, or with reckless disregard, of its falsity.

Young is represented by Bryan Glass of New York city who brought the case in the Southern District of New York.