Simón Peralta has filed an employment discrimination suit in federal court against the City of Providence. Peralta, an employee and resident of the city, had been working as a laborer in the Department of Public Works (DPW) since 2008 and over the years applied for Senior Mechanic each time a position was open. Peralta alleges that on no less than three separate occasions when he applied for the position, DPW leaders decided to skip over him in favor of white individuals who were not employed by Providence at the time.
Peralta has extensive experience in auto mechanics, diesel engines and hydraulics, as described in the resumé he attached to his application. Yet the city claimed in its response to Peralta’s complaint to the Rhode Island Human Rights Commission that Peralta did not have the required experience in diesel or hydraulics. In one of the city’s personnel files that Peralta inspected, the copy of his resumé is missing. However, the bid sheet has two small staple holes where he originally attached the resumé.
“I am trying to put a stop to this discriminatory attitude so that future generations are treated with dignity,” said Peralta, explaining his goal of filing the lawsuit. As to whether he is concerned about potential retaliation on the job, Peralta added, “Dignity has no price.”
Peralta’s lawsuit is being filed by lawyer Shannah Kurland just days after the celebration of Dr Martin Luther King Jr‘s birthday and is predicated on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a federal law prohibiting discrimination that came about in response to massive widespread protests organized by Dr. King and many grassroots Black leaders. Peralta’s suit is supported by Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM). Although based in the Southeast Asian community, PrYSM works to address violence and racism against all people of color, not only by police, but also in its economic form.