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What you need to know for 01/20/2017

Schenectady official accused of racial slur chooses to retire

Schenectady official accused of racial slur chooses to retire

The city supervisor accused of cursing at employees and using a racial slur has chosen retirement ra

The city supervisor accused of cursing at employees and using a racial slur has chosen retirement rather than discipline.

Mark Miller, a supervisor in the city’s street division, allegedly berated a black employee and used a racial slur Nov. 1. He has been on paid suspension for more than a week while city officials investigated the reports.

Just before Mayor Gary McCarthy announced his decision on Miller’s fate this week, Miller filed for retirement.

“I believe that’s going to be the way it’s going to resolve itself,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy declined to discuss the findings of his investigation or what the punishment could have been. But he said he even considered whether it rose to the level of a crime.

“You have to evaluate every circumstance,” he said. “It could rise to criminal conduct, such as aggravated harassment.”

But, he said, he was not willing to institute a blanket prohibition on racial slurs. Sometimes friends refer to each other by such slurs, he said.

“Guys working out on the trucks, it’s a more locker room environment, they might use language we would not consider appropriate in church,” he said. “There may be more tolerance. Words could be bantered back and forth, people could be friends, and it doesn’t create a hostile work environment.”

However, the allegations in Miller’s case suggested he had created a severely hostile work environment, to the point where McCarthy removed him from the job while he investigated.

The labor union contract does not allow McCarthy to suspend workers without pay while under investigation. The contract says they must remain on the job unless there’s a health or safety risk, at which point they must be paid to stay home.

McCarthy said that if the allegations were true, Miller was a health and safety risk, so he sent Miller home with pay.

Workers said Miller has often berated his subordinates by using obscenities. They reported him after they said he crossed the line by using a racial slur.

They said everyone on the top floor of the new Bureau of Service building heard Miller shouting at an employee on his phone on Nov. 1. They said he called the worker “stupid” and then shouted, “you dumb [obscenity and racial slur].”

Miller can withdraw his retirement paperwork until Jan. 1, when his retirement becomes official.

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