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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New York's Next Governor-David Patterson May Have Some Problems Of His Own

Lt_gov_paterson As reported on Feb. 20, 2008, here on Adjunct Law Professor Blog, Lt. Governor David Patterson may have some legal problems himself. Specifically, a federal district court in upstate New York refused to dismiss an employment discrimination case which claimed that the Lt. Governor, then the NYS Minority Leader, fired a white photographer in order to hire a black photographer. As I previously wrote:   

Maioriello v. NYS Senate Minority, ___F.Supp.2d___ (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 12, 2008)(registration required), is a major employment discrimination case that I suspect we are going to here alot more about. A white photographer alleged that he was fired by the then NYS Senate Minority Leader (and current NYS Lt. Governor) in order to hire an African American in his stead. Applying the McDonald Douglas shifting burden of proof standard, the court held that plaintiff stated a cause of action. It is alleged that plaintiff was discriminated in the following manner:

Regarding the day of his termination, plaintiff testified that at approximately 6:00 p.m., Pierce-Smith telephoned him to inform him that a "friend" was coming down to see him. Plaintiff stated that he walked out of his office space and met McPadden. Plaintiff stated that he and McPadden joined Pierce-Smith in her office where McPadden informed plaintiff that "Senator Paterson is relieving you of your duties." Plaintiff testified that he asked why, and that McPadden responded that there were minority senators, "people of color", who "want to replace you by . . . another photographer." According to plaintiff, McPadden went on to say "you know who it is", and that "you know, they want to replace you with a minority photographer, a black photographer, and you know who El-Wise is." Plaintiff testified that he again asked "why?" and that McPadden responded "you got to remember who Senator Paterson is. Senator Paterson is black." Plaintiff stated that Pierce-Smith said nothing during the meeting.

In fairness to the Lt. Governor, the court did not find that he actually did anything wrong or violated the law. It simply refused to dismiss the case. Perhaps, Lt. Governor Patterson had nothing to do with this individual's discharge. However, before we entrust the Lt. Governor with the Governorship, I would hope that we will here more about this case and the Lt.Governor's position with respect to this issue.

The Lt. Governor has had a remarkable career. He has done a lot of good for the people of New York. However, he owes it to the people of New York to explain what happened in the above case.   

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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