Probation officers union claim gender discrimination in complaint against city

Probation officers at work. Photo courtesy of the Department of Probation.

Probation officers at work. Photo courtesy of the Department of Probation.

By David Brand

The union representing more than 800 probation officers has filed a complaint against the city, alleging pay discrimination against women and people of color who make up a majority of union members.

The United Probation Officers Association filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on June 7, alleging that when white men made up the majority of probation officers, “the salary ranges appropriately reflected the value of the job.” Today, nine in ten probation officers are people of color and 68 percent are women, the complaint states.

“It is time for the City to show it is committed to supporting the dedicated professionals who work in Probation,” said UPOA President Dalvanie Powell. “For too long our members have been underpaid and undervalued. We are bringing this claim to put an end to that. The city can either be part of the problem, or part of the solution.”

In September, the UPOA sued the city to demand detailed salary information for city employees in other comparable agencies. In December, the UPOA again sued the city, this time alleging that the city blocks probation officers from attaining promotions and earning wages commensurate with supervisory roles.

Powell told the Eagle in April that officers serve a crucial function in the city’s justice system, by working with people convicted of crimes who are not sentenced to jail or prison time.

“Probation officers are an alternative to incarceration,” Powell said. “We save the city and state hundreds of thousands of dollars by keeping people out of the prison system.”

The role of probation officers has expanded since the city and state implemented Raise the Age reforms that move the majority of cases against people under age 17 out of Criminal Court and into Family Court in October 2018. Probation officers handle intake procedures for children arrested in New York City, while supervision probation officers work with young people who are convicted of a crime but not sentenced to jail.

The New York City Department of Probation told the Eagle it has “not received notification of an EEOC filing and remains committed to the fair and equitable treatment of every employee.”

The Kurland Group law firm is representing the union.