Spitzer's father loses $1.3M bias suit

December 6, 2008 3:30:35 PM PST
A Bronx jury has ordered the father of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to pay more than $1.3 million in an employment discrimination case. A former doorman and three former porters in an apartment building owned by 84-year-old Bernard Spitzer claimed they were fired from their jobs a decade ago because they were black. They said they were replaced with lighter-skinned workers.

The jury deliberated for about four hours Friday before siding with the workers.

Spitzer's lawyer, Jeffrey Moerdler, said he was "more than disappointed" by the verdict.

"There was no evidence showing any discriminatory behavior by Mr. Spitzer. It is difficult to fathom on what other basis the jury may have reached it erroneous verdict. We are confident that we will prevail on appeal."

During the trial, Spitzer, whose son resigned this year after a prostitution scandal, testified that he wasn't involved in the decision to fire the men, who worked for an outside management company.

He added, though, that he was sure their ethnicity played no role.

The workers had been seeking much more money, up to $2 million each, but they said they were thrilled by the verdict nonetheless.

"I feel vindicated," said Akim Rodriguez, who had worked as a porter. His share of the award would be $475,000, if it is upheld.

Bernard Spitzer built and owns several luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan.

The property management company that employed the men, Gumley-Haft Inc., settled the case before trial for an undisclosed sum.

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