Black female employee of PATH rail in New York area says promotions went to white men

Donna Glaesener, of Linden, New Jersey, alleges race and sex discrimination and retaliation by PATH, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson rail system.
PATH Train in Hoboken, New Jersey
A PATH subway train pulls into the station as commuters wait on the platform on July 18, 2018 in Hoboken, N.J.Gary Hershorn / Getty Images file

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By Minyvonne Burke

A black New Jersey woman is suing the major commuter-rail system where she works, alleging that she was denied multiple promotions and job opportunities because they were given to white male colleagues.

Donna Glaesener, of Linden, about 23 miles southwest of Manhattan, filed an amended complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court alleging race and sex discrimination and retaliation by the Port Authority Trans-Hudson rail system, or PATH, which carries thousands of riders daily between New York City and New Jersey. The suit is against PATH and its parent agency, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Glaesener began working for PATH in 1996 as a conductor and worked her way up to become chief safety supervisor in February 2016. It was after taking on the role of supervisor that she claims promotions and job opportunities were given to her white male colleagues over her, even though she was qualified.

The lawsuit describes several alleged instances of when Glaesener was denied positions, including in 2016 when she inquired about a vacant position and was told that the job would not be filled.

However, according to the suit, the position was given to a white male colleague and was never posted online to give Glaesener or anyone else the chance to apply.

"As a result, Glaesener was not even considered" for the position, the suit states.

During another incident, Glaesener learned that a colleague was going to retire so she asked about applying for the position.

She was promised that there would be a job posting, but it never went up and she was later told that a co-worker was being "groomed" to take over for the employee who was retiring.

The lawsuit says that Glaesener was denied promotions in 2013, 2016 and 2018 in "favor of lesser-qualified white males."

When she was eventually offered a new position, Glaesener was told she needed to resign from PATH and then apply, which would have forfeited her retirement time.

Glaesener decided not to pursue the job that was instead given to a white male employee "who did not meet the minimum qualifications for the position, and who was not forced to resign from PATH or forfeit his time within the PATH retirement system," the suit says.

According to the lawsuit, other black female employees have experienced similar issues as Glaesener. The suit says the agency has "a pattern and/or practice of promoting white males over equally or more-qualified black females."

Glaesener is still employed with PATH as an acting superintendent and is seeking damages. She was not immediately available Friday, but her attorney Erica Domingo told NBC that it is evident Glaesener was qualified for the positions she applied to.

The Port Authority told NBC News on Friday that it could not comment on the lawsuit.