Gregory Fishman worked for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority between 1991 and 2006 as a bridge and tunnel maintainer. This week a federal jury awarded him $235,000 for emotional pain and $500,000 in punitive damages for religious discrimination.
The lawsuit was filed in 2004, after Fishman had been in a meeting with Peter Senesi, the general manager of the Queens-Midtown tunnel. They had been discussing Fishman’s attendance record. Fishman overheard Senesi use an expletive while referring to him as a Jew.
A month later, Fishman earned the third highest score in an exam for promotion to Permanent Level II Maintainer; but Senesi passed him over and promoted others who had scored lower. In February 2005, Fishman filed a complaint with the Bridge and Tunnel Authority’s equal employment opportunity office. In March, he was demoted and lost $8,000 in salary.
A few months later, Fishman asked for time off for knee surgery. Despite the agency doctor’s statement that he could not work without that surgery, the time off was denied. Fishman now lives in Texas and has been unable to find a steady job.
The judge in this case has not yet decided whether he should receive $1 million in lost pay as well as the $735,000.
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