A black attorney who works for an affiliate of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has filed a lawsuit after a white supervisor allegedly assaulted her and the MTA allegedly did nothing about it.
In a lawsuit filed this week in the southern borough of New York City, 50-year-old Kellie Walker, 60-year-old Victor Muallem, her direct line manager at MTA Bridges and Tunnels, alleged “aggressive and violent behavior” including the incident in which Muallem allegedly hit Walker during an arbitration with seven witnesses.
According to the lawsuit, Walker has worked as a lawyer for the agency since 2018 and allegedly started learning of hostility from Muallem in the spring of 2019, including unfair criticism and derogatory comments made in front of others.
The alleged assault occurred on February 3, 2020, according to the complaint. Walker said Muallem hit her arm with the back of her hand. Walker said she reported the incident to police and filed a complaint with her employers, but nothing was done. The lawsuit also alleged that Sharon Gallo-Kotcher, vice president of industrial relations at MTA, fought against Walker by monitoring when she would get on and off.
The lawsuit filed against Muallem, Gallo-Kotcher, and the MTA, according to Walker’s attorneys, raised several allegations, including racial and gender discrimination, and retaliation against federal, state, and / or city laws, gender-based violence, assault, and battery.
“Kellie Walker deserves justice. The MTA should not sit and do nothing when a white male supervisor is credibly accused of assaulting a black employee, not to mention the presence of multiple witnesses, “Walker’s representative Jeanne Christensen said in a statement.” We look forward to holding the MTA accountable for this appalling and discriminatory behavior and hope that this lawsuit sends out a loud message that no woman should ever live in fear of being in the same room as her male boss. “
Tim Minton, MTA communications director, said in response to the lawsuit that the agency would contest the claims.
“We will vigorously contest these allegations, but we will not have litigation in the press,” Minton said.