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Thursday, August 18, 2011

NYU Pays $210,000 to Worker Ridiculed as 'Monkey' and 'Gorilla' by Supervisor

An African immigrant received a $210,000 payout from NYU after his abusive mailroom supervisor repeatedly ridiculed him as a "monkey" and a "gorilla."

"Do you want a banana?" his boss asked NYU employee Osei Agyemang in one of many racist remarks reportedly made to the native of Ghana from July 2007 through January 2009.

The boss mocked the immigrant's accent as "gibberish," while telling him "go back to your cage" and "go back to the jungle," according to a September 2010 suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The settlement between the Manhattan university and the one-time worker at the Bobst Library was made public yesterday.

"This suit shows that ugly harassment and retaliation can happen anywhere, even at a prestigious university," said EEOC attorney Gilliam Thomas, who represented Agyemang.

The lawsuit accused NYU of ignoring Agyemang's complaints about the stinging insults and racist cracks made while he worked in the library.

According to the suit, the harassment ended only after Agyemang's request for a transfer was granted. "This case goes back some years and involves the actions of an employee who is no longer with the university," said a statement from NYU spokesman John Beckman.

"Such behavior is extremely rare here, and totally at odds with the spirit of diversity and tolerance for which NYU is rightly known."

As part of the deal, NYU agreed to enhanced anti-discrimination policies to help prevent similar incidents.

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