New York City owes a quarter of a billion dollars — yes, billion — to women and minority workers, according to a federal commission that oversees employment practices. On Monday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled on a complaint brought by more than 1,000 workers, according to The New York Times. The ruling found that the city paid women and people of color significantly less than white men, and that “structural and historic problems” were at the root of the issue. The EEOC ordered the city to pay $246 million in back wages. A city spokeswoman told The Times that, "the process is just beginning," and that she expected arbitration to happen later this year. While this is already a huge amount of money to owe New York City workers, it should probably be much, much more. The union that represents the employees involved in this complaint believes that discrimination against women and people of color has been going on for decades. The $246 million figure only covers workers employed by the city in the past six years.
The report also recommended that the city try harder to make sure discrimination doesn’t continue into the future, with measures such as stronger oversight and better efforts to make all workers aware of opportunities for professional advancement. The city has until April 17 to make an offer to the workers, which would lead to negotiations. If it doesn’t respond, the city could face a lawsuit from the Department of Justice. Wage inequality is not just a New York City problem. Studies have repeatedly shown that white men tend to make significantly more money than women and people of color throughout the United States.