State senator’s suit says Providence ‘supported’ discriminatory environment, retaliated

Senator Ana Quezada. (State Senate)

A Rhode Island state senator’s lawsuit against the City of Providence alleges she was retaliated against when she brought up possible discrimination against a Hispanic worker.

State Senator Ana Quezada, who represents parts of Providence and North Providence, says in a lawsuit filed in federal court that when she brought up her concerns of suspicious behavior in hiring practices to a department director, she was disciplined but never given a clear explanation as to why she was being punished.

The senator further alleges that the city “fostered and supported” an environment of discrimination against minorities in the Building Department.

The lawsuit says she faced punishment after she brought up one such instance of discrimination.

At the time of the incident Quezada was a housing inspector in the city’s Department of Inspection and Standards, she was also a Steward for Laborer’s Local 1033.

One of the union members, a Hispanic employee named Rodis Rodriguez, was passed up for an open job and essentially a promotion that Quezada states Rodriguez was qualified for.

The lawsuit alleges that when the qualified Rodriguez applied for the job, the department suddenly decided it would not award to position to anyone and instead added new criteria to the job.

Quezada says she questioned Department Director Jeffrey Lykins over this “suspicious” implementation, which she claims was a rare thing for the city to do. The senator also claims that that move would not have been made if Rodriguez had been a white applicant.

Because of this confrontation, which the lawsuit claims was always cordial, Quezada was suspended for five days.

Quezada says that not only did she lose wages, but her reputation was also harmed because the suspension was widely known, but not the grounds for it.

She says in the lawsuit that the Building Department fosters an environment of discrimination against minorities and “actively discourages complaints about how minorities are treated.”

When asked to comment, a City of Providence spokesperson declined- stating the city does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The full lawsuit could be read below:

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