SF administrator files discrimination claim with city

February 15, 2013 8:39:56 PM PST
A key administrator with the San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability says he had no choice but to retire after years of being the victim of discrimination by city officials. He made the charges public Friday at a city hearing.

"For at least the past three years, the City of San Francisco has engaged in a blatant ongoing pattern and practice of discrimination," Ken Stein said.

Stein minced no words when he told the Mayor's Disability Council that the city repeatedly violated his rights both under the Americans with Disabilities Act and state discrimination laws.

What he said was a sad irony. Until he retired Thursday, Stein was program administrator of the Mayor's Office on Disability; a job he held for ten years, helping the disabled with their discrimination complaints.

"If this could happen to me with my background in disability rights and independent living and disability access of over four decades, it could happen to any city employee," Stein said.

The Mayor's Office on Disability is located in the War Memorial building. Stein says he got seriously ill three years ago after a long hallway was painted.

"What I have is something called vasomotor rhinitis," he said. "My sinuses get really swollen, I get really bad headaches, and with every new exposure I get sick harder and sick longer."

Stein told the hearing, the building management refused to make accommodations, like giving him advance notice of future paint jobs or using paint with lower grade chemicals.

After he filed a civil rights complaint, Stein says the city attorney finally agreed to mediate.

In the spring of 2011, almost a year after Stein says he got sick, the city finally agreed to a settlement. Various accommodations were made to protect him from the chemicals of fresh paint jobs.

But Stein says he got sick again when part of the building was painted without any warning. His condition became worse during another paint job last year. Still, he says his pleas were ignored.

"No one in a position of authority spoke up for my rights or my health," Stein said.

Stein says it wasn't until he gave notice last month that he was retiring when the city finally agreed to accommodations.

The city attorney and the Mayor's Office on Disability declined comment, saying this was a personnel issue.


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