New DPW head Mohammed Nuru has history of sexism, racism accusations

Criticism targeting new Department of Public Works head Mohammed Nuru is being dismissed as racism, but Nuru himself was the target of a lawsuit settled earlier this year that accused him of racism and sexism in the workplace.

“Nuru has a pattern of treating African-American women differently in the workplace,” according to a lawsuit filed in 2009 against The City and Nuru, which also names the head of Public Works at the time, Ed Reiskin, and the city administrator at the time, Mayor Ed Lee.

The lawsuit was filed by Toni Battle, a manager who investigated instances of discrimination against employees at the department. She said she was fired after taking a hard line on cases of discrimination.

One of Battle’s first cases involved a complaint against a male supervisor who had allegedly solicited sexual favors from a female employee — behavior that he allegedly had engaged in with four women throughout his 30-year career. She claimed that when she confronted Nuru about the male being leaked information regarding the ongoing investigation, Nuru told her to dismiss it because the male employee was retiring.

In another case, a female employee had been promoted and was to be mentored by the man she was replacing. She complained that the man was working against her and that Nuru said she “needed to learn how to dress like a lady” and to “stop acting ghetto.”

Battle said she, too, was the target of derogatory remarks from Nuru because of her gender and race and that Nuru had encouraged others not to speak to her. The lawsuit claimed he told her on various instances she “needed to know her place and show proper respect,” and she needed to be “kept in check.”

She was eventually fired after Nuru had a meeting with Reiskin and Lee, according to the lawsuit.

Nuru did not comment on the allegations of the lawsuit. A settlement of $105,000 was approved by the Board of Supervisors in February and the case can no longer go to court.

“All the facts and allegations in the lawsuit are true,” said Battle’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy. “I’m surprised that he would be promoted.”

The mayoral campaign of City Attorney Dennis Herrera has been critical of the appointment of Nuru, but no mention was made of this case, which the City Attorney’s Office defended. In an answer to the complaint, the office denied all the charges.

“The case involves personnel matters and we are not at liberty to discuss it in detail,” said Jack Song, a spokesman for the office.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsDennis HerreraLocalSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

City officials closed San Francisco County Jail No. 4 on the top floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. in September, reducing the number of beds in the jail system by about 400. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
SF jail closure prompts doctor to call for release of more inmates

Reduced space increases risk of COVID-19 spreading among those in custody

Cyclists have flocked to Market Street since private vehicles were largely banned from a long stretch of it in January. (Amanda Peterson/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Plans for sidewalk-level bikeway on Market Street dropped due to costs, increased cyclist volume

Advocates say revisions to Better Market Street fail to meet safety goals of project

Prop. 21 would allow San Francisco city officials to expand rent control to cover thousands more units. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tenant advocates take another try at expanding rent control with Prop. 21

Measure would allow city to impose new protections on properties 15 years or older

Tenderloin residents are finding benefits to having roads closed in the neighborhood. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Should there be fewer cars in the Tenderloin’s future?

The pandemic has opened San Franciscans’ eyes to new uses of urban streets

Singer-songwriter Cam is finding musicmaking to be healing during 2020’s world health crisis. 
Courtesy 
Dennis Leupold
Cam challenges country music tropes

Bay Area-bred songwriter releases ‘The Otherside’

Most Read