The New York Department of Taxation and Finance is facing a civil rights lawsuit from its former director of diversity and affirmative action, Joseph Brooking, 60, who claims he was forced into early retirement because of the racism directed at him.

Brooking’s lawsuit, filed on Friday, alleges racial discrimination is a problem in the Buffalo office of the state agency.

As the director of diversity and affirmative action, Brooking said the white employees were against him and his team being the ones to handle discrimination complaints. Consequently, he claims that he and his team of investigators, which was predominantly black, were stripped of their abilities to investigate discrimination complaints.

Brooking told his bosses that disciplinary action was needed to show the department was serious about rooting out discrimination, but instead a week later Commissioner Thomas Mattox told him he had to retire or be fired, according to a story in the New York Post.

Brooking said he was forced into early retirement because of “racial animus” toward him and other black staffers.

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Michael Bailey
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