Attorneys spar in Tempe bias case - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Attorneys spar in Tempe bias case

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Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2005 11:43 am | Updated: 9:50 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Tempe offered nothing in a four-week trial to refute claims of workplace discrimination by public works employees, their attorney said Wednesday in closing arguments.

The city also offered nothing in the way of apologies for two decades of racial discrimination, attorney Stephen Montoya said in U.S. District Court.

"Saying you’re sorry means a lot," he said.

Tempe defense attorney Andrew Ching said Montoya’s "speech full of innuendo and invective" to the eight-member jury was nothing but a diversion because he failed to prove his case.

And Tempe proved that even though there have been incidents of discrimination in its 1,600 person work force, the city has taken corrective action.

"Not just on behalf of some, but on behalf of all," Ching said.

Montoya said his clients, most of whom are Hispanic, endured an environment of racial slurs and undesirable jobs. The complaint charges the city passed over Hispanics in favor of less qualified white employees and attempted to cover up problems.

One witness testified that in 1982 a supervisor bragged that he was brought in to "get rid of the Mexicans," Montoya said.

That same supervisor also said as recently as January 1999 during a meeting that Hispanic employees were incapable of understanding a survey of employees.

Ching said the supervisor was commenting on the literacy skills of the employees. He said there was no plan to rid the city of Hispanics, and 40 percent of the public works employees are Hispanic.

The arguments went late into the day and the jury is expected to begin deliberations today.

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