Jerald Times, a former chess director and national chess master, has filed a $64 million lawsuit against Success Academy, the largest charter school network in New York City, for alleged systemic racial discrimination. Times claims he was fired for speaking out against a “separate but equal” doctrine that marginalized Black educators in favor of less-qualified white employees. The lawsuit provides details of nearly two years of service during which Times saw a Black guest speaker with a Ph.D. fingerprinted and himself replaced by a white worker without a college degree.

The lawsuit contends that Success Academy appointed a white job applicant over five more-qualified people of color, directed Times to demote three Black teachers, held internal chess competitions in Cobble Hill and the Upper West Side without any in Black and brown communities, gave Black chess coaches lower evaluations than their white counterparts, furloughed mostly Black basketball coaches but not white soccer coaches, and demanded a Black man with a Physics Ph.D. be fingerprinted, submit to an intensive background check, and be tested for drugs before speaking at an online chess tournament. In contrast, two white guest speakers did not go through the same process, and only one was fingerprinted.

According to the Complaint, Times joined Success Academy in 2019 with a glowing resume and a strong desire to teach New York City kids of all colors the game he loved. However, he alleges that as Times taught students to master the chessboard, Success Academy began making moves he could not condone. Times further asserts that one Black chess teacher eventually filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and named Times a witness. By then, Times had received a mediocre evaluation, a demotion, and a salary cut.

The $64 million lawsuit filed by Jerald Times against Success Academy, the largest charter school network in New York City, alleging systemic racial discrimination, should serve as a warning to institutions to foster an inclusive and equitable environment for all employees. Discrimination, whether intentional or not, has no place in any workplace, and all organizations should take the necessary measures to ensure that all employees feel valued and respected.

Risman & Risman, a New York City employment law firm, is aware of this discrimination and works to support all employees who wish to work in an environment free of discrimination. If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an employment attorney in New York, our team will be honored to provide legal counsel and representation. Call us today at 212-233-6400 to schedule a free consultation with our team.

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