In 2016, as federal investigators dug into allegations that Mayor Bill de Blasio traded favors for political donations, a senior official at a city agency at the center of the probe was demoted and given a sharp pay cut.
That official, Geneith Turnbull, has filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that her demotion was motivated by discrimination, and was meant to punish her for standing up to her supervisors.
Ms. Turnbull was a deputy commissioner at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services until she was demoted in February 2017, in what City Hall said was a reorganization of the agency. The lawsuit, filed this month in Federal District Court in Manhattan, accused the city of demoting Ms. Turnbull in retaliation for repeatedly voicing concerns about a pay raise given to one of her subordinates, who she believed had in some way helped to protect Mr. de Blasio during the federal investigation.
The lawsuit also alleges that her demotion was part of a pattern of discrimination against older, minority employees at the agency. Ms. Turnbull is black.
Ms. Turnbull was demoted on the same day that Ricardo Morales, another senior employee at the administrative services agency, was fired. Mr. Morales has filed a notice of claim with the city in preparation for a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit; Mr. Morales had resisted pressure from City Hall over negotiations between his agency and Harendra Singh, a mayoral donor who did business with the city.