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Brooklyn, NY - Black School Bus Driver Sues Borough Park Satmar School Over Slurs, Owed Back Pay

Published on: June 2, 2015 01:47 PM
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(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Brooklyn, NY – An African-American school bus driver is suing the United Talmudical Academy of Boro Park for $2 million for discrimination for being called, “monkey friend” and “blackie” while on the job.

Willis Baker, 56, filed a lawsuit against the ultra-Orthodox Jewish school and Yanke Shaefer, who hired him, reports Newsweek (http://bit.ly/1FrORu8 ). Baker stats in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, that while working for the school from July to December 2014, Yanke would call him his “monkey friend” in front of others, and that students would call him “blackie,” monkey” and “stupid.”

The suit also states the children on the bus would throw candy, spit balls, paper and hard objects at Baker, but none of the teachers on the bus would stop them.

Baker also alleges that he was denied back wages and overtime pay, and that he was the only employee ordered to clean and service buses.

The suit alleges that baker worked 13 hours a day, Sundays through Thursdays, and seven and a half hours on Fridays, for a total of 72.5 hours per week, but that he received a flat salary of $600 per week from July to August and a flat rate of $850 from September through December.

Baker states that when he asked about the wages and being called “monkey friend,” Shaefer told him he should “shut up and appreciate the fact that [he had] a job in the first place.”

The suit claims that Shaefer then assigned Baker an additional bus route, upping his weekly hours to 82.5, and that Baker was docked pay for an alleged Aug. 5, 2014 car accident that Baker said never happened.

Baker says a Dec. 5, 2014 accident led to his termination after a car scraped the bus while turning. Baker said the accident wasn’t his fault, but that Shaefer said he was going to dock his pay. When Baker said he couldn’t afford to lose pay and that he still needed back pay and overtime, he was fired, according to the lawsuit.

Schaefer and the school deny all allegations of employment discrimination, and says that Willis had at least five accidents with his bus.

Information taken from Newsweek


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Read Comments (43)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 02, 2015 at 02:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Nebach.... Theses kids don't know better. They grow up in their own bubble not knowing how bad these word really are and thinking the driver doesn't understand. Maybe if these kids would be allowed to play some ball they wouldn't have to throw it at the driver.

2

 Jun 02, 2015 at 02:05 PM lavrenty Says:

i totally believe it, i have been exploited by Hasidim myself even though I am frum Yid.

3

 Jun 02, 2015 at 02:19 PM VoiceOfSanity Says:

I REALLY hope this is proven to be false but I would be very surprised if its not. Many of us have seen it with our own eyes. And it's not just a stamar or even chassidish problem for that matter.

4

 Jun 02, 2015 at 02:32 PM Wise-Guy Says:

I don't see how this Bus-driver could possibly (fairly) win this Lawsuit without a shred of evidence.
It's seems to be just his word against their word.

However, if he is telling the truth, then I hope Satmar has enough legal sense (and ethics) to settle out of court.
And then make sure all other Mosdos hear about this and learn the lesson....

p.s.
If I had to guess, I would speculate that the driver was indeed somewhat mistreated. And when he got mad at being fired he decided to have his revenge by allegedly multiplying his mistreatment by a factor of 10.

5

 Jun 02, 2015 at 02:37 PM Averagejoe Says:

What's the matter with you folks? Your first assumption is that the plaintiff is honest and truthful? Every lawyer worth his salt knows he must make the claims as big and as sensational as possible to corner the defendant/insurance company into a big settlement. That is exactly what'll happen here and the truth will be completely irrelevant.

6

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:04 PM toolee Says:

Satmar states;Schaefer and the school deny all allegations of employment discrimination, and says that Willis had at least FIVE ACCIDENTS with his bus.

Why did they wait so long to take action?

7

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:14 PM yonasonw Says:

The point I think a lot of you are missing, or at least not talking about, is the messages on race being taught by the parents and yeshivas of these kids.

The right wing frum community is by in large little different from the Jim Crow South, either in the proud and triumphal manner in which it trumpets and teaches its racial and ethnic superiority, and in the open and shamelessly way it directs epithets on racial minorities.

8

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:17 PM commonsense99 Says:

Reply to #2  
lavrenty Says:

i totally believe it, i have been exploited by Hasidim myself even though I am frum Yid.

And I have been treated like a prince by the chasidim and exploited by modern orthodox, therefore all chasidim are good and all MO are exploiters???

9

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:26 PM Realistic Says:

Everyone knowing the school schedule knows that it's impossible to work as a driver more than 7 hours a day.

So how does he get to 78.5 hours.

10

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Everyone of you guys who posted these comments should consider as if the kids on the bus were there children.My kids tell me they also had black drivers all the years they went to school and chedar.NOBODY every teased with them Great for you guys out there. Take his words against us yidden!!!!!!!!!

11

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:33 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #8  
commonsense99 Says:

And I have been treated like a prince by the chasidim and exploited by modern orthodox, therefore all chasidim are good and all MO are exploiters???

#2 is simply too deep for you...or you are obfuscating the obvious. Shame on you.

12

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:35 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #9  
Realistic Says:

Everyone knowing the school schedule knows that it's impossible to work as a driver more than 7 hours a day.

So how does he get to 78.5 hours.

Get a CDL and a professional driving job, and you'll find out...otherwise, keep quiet, for you don't know what you're talking about.

13

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:41 PM Anonymous Says:

They'll just pay & make the whole thing go away .

14

 Jun 02, 2015 at 04:01 PM Melech Says:

For all of you naysayers, I'd be willing to bet that this bus driver was indeed the subject of racial slurs. We've seen how Yidden of all religious persuasions, routinely refer to Black Americans, as "Svartsers", with an air of contempt. Even Bernard Goldberg (who formerly worked for CBS News), went on Bill O'Reilly's show some time ago, and attempted to justify the use of the word Svartser; he had the gall to state that it didn't really have a derogatory meaning. Regarding the children, whom the driver stated misbehaved towards him, let me state that I believe him. In my own community, I've seen how children from very frum families, misbehave in public. They have no derech eretz, nor are they taught any by their parents. The parents are completely oblivious to the rude and obnoxious behavior of their children in public. How many times have we attempted to eat in peace at a Kiddush, while these brats are jumping on furniture, throwing food, eating like slobs, making noise, screaming at each other, etc. Again, it is up to the parents, to see that they act like mentches!

15

 Jun 02, 2015 at 04:22 PM Secular Says:

Pay stubs

16

 Jun 02, 2015 at 03:32 PM yonasonw Says:

Reply to #4  
Wise-Guy Says:

I don't see how this Bus-driver could possibly (fairly) win this Lawsuit without a shred of evidence.
It's seems to be just his word against their word.

However, if he is telling the truth, then I hope Satmar has enough legal sense (and ethics) to settle out of court.
And then make sure all other Mosdos hear about this and learn the lesson....

p.s.
If I had to guess, I would speculate that the driver was indeed somewhat mistreated. And when he got mad at being fired he decided to have his revenge by allegedly multiplying his mistreatment by a factor of 10.

"p.s.
If I had to guess, I would speculate that the driver was indeed somewhat mistreated. And when he got mad at being fired he decided to have his revenge by allegedly multiplying his mistreatment by a factor of 10."

I suppose that if called a Kike or a Jew B----rd, and if the victim of Black kids throwing candies at you along with the anti-Semitic taunts...that you'd minimize the situation by a factor of 10?!

Your minimizing the situation is part of the problem...that together with your incorrect and silly analysis of the legal case robs you of any credibility.

17

 Jun 02, 2015 at 04:45 PM ydeneydene Says:

Its a mix story. Several contributing factors. If school would educate the MINIMUM to respect the people amd the law, the suit would be much an easier one. Let the justice department figure this mess out. some wordson his complaint are typical lawyer's wordS. but IF I WOULD BE A WORKER AT A PLACE LIKE THAT I WOULD WANT TO DO THE PAYBACK HUMILIATION AND MAKE MONEY. you alm think its Hefker velt. And chikul hashem is huge. This stupid horrible rebbe sits there and lets this happen. I believe plenty of this .... after all the bad treatment.. I would Invent the rest.... I work the other way around a frim person amongst some goim and I get humiliated a little by them. The minute I will have a legal or monetary infringement, I will combine it with harrassment and have a party

18

 Jun 02, 2015 at 04:48 PM mutti Says:

a close relative of mine stopped believing in yiddishkeit altogether after he saw how the chasidim he worked for treated the non jewish employees.

19

 Jun 02, 2015 at 04:53 PM MAYERFREUND Says:

Reply to #14  
Melech Says:

For all of you naysayers, I'd be willing to bet that this bus driver was indeed the subject of racial slurs. We've seen how Yidden of all religious persuasions, routinely refer to Black Americans, as "Svartsers", with an air of contempt. Even Bernard Goldberg (who formerly worked for CBS News), went on Bill O'Reilly's show some time ago, and attempted to justify the use of the word Svartser; he had the gall to state that it didn't really have a derogatory meaning. Regarding the children, whom the driver stated misbehaved towards him, let me state that I believe him. In my own community, I've seen how children from very frum families, misbehave in public. They have no derech eretz, nor are they taught any by their parents. The parents are completely oblivious to the rude and obnoxious behavior of their children in public. How many times have we attempted to eat in peace at a Kiddush, while these brats are jumping on furniture, throwing food, eating like slobs, making noise, screaming at each other, etc. Again, it is up to the parents, to see that they act like mentches!

If what you say true that the Hasidim are completely oblivious to the rude and obnoxious behavior.
Can you please use the same explanation why the majority in the jails for violent crime are not Hasidim?

20

 Jun 02, 2015 at 04:54 PM Wise-Guy Says:

Reply to #16  
yonasonw Says:

"p.s.
If I had to guess, I would speculate that the driver was indeed somewhat mistreated. And when he got mad at being fired he decided to have his revenge by allegedly multiplying his mistreatment by a factor of 10."

I suppose that if called a Kike or a Jew B----rd, and if the victim of Black kids throwing candies at you along with the anti-Semitic taunts...that you'd minimize the situation by a factor of 10?!

Your minimizing the situation is part of the problem...that together with your incorrect and silly analysis of the legal case robs you of any credibility.

I believe (and hope) that if I were mistreated I would state the facts accurately and truthfully.
Perhaps the bus driver is indeed telling the whole truth. I did in fact write that I was only speculating. (It seems that so are you, so readily accepting the accuracy of the Bus-driver's account.)

Read comment # 5 for further understanding why my speculation is IMHO an educated guess.

21

 Jun 02, 2015 at 05:24 PM Lady Bus Driver Says:

Reply to #2  
lavrenty Says:

i totally believe it, i have been exploited by Hasidim myself even though I am frum Yid.

And I have been virtually ignored for the same reason.

22

 Jun 02, 2015 at 06:23 PM awacs Says:

Reply to #12  
yonasonw Says:

Get a CDL and a professional driving job, and you'll find out...otherwise, keep quiet, for you don't know what you're talking about.

I have a CDL, and worked for yeshivas for a few years and 'know what I'm talking about.'

Very few yeshivas have the driver do anything between 9/10 and 2/3. So the yeshiva wasn't paying for those hours. Perhaps they indicated to him that he should remain in school for the whole day - then he might have viewed himself 'on call' and to paid for those hours.

I've also been on and around a lot of buses with black bus drivers. The kids typically fought with each other and ignored the drivers ...

23

 Jun 02, 2015 at 06:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
yonasonw Says:

Get a CDL and a professional driving job, and you'll find out...otherwise, keep quiet, for you don't know what you're talking about.

You're a completely arrogant know it all, only you don't really know anything! Stop your holier than thou attitude and making an idiot out of yourself.

24

 Jun 02, 2015 at 06:32 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
yonasonw Says:

"p.s.
If I had to guess, I would speculate that the driver was indeed somewhat mistreated. And when he got mad at being fired he decided to have his revenge by allegedly multiplying his mistreatment by a factor of 10."

I suppose that if called a Kike or a Jew B----rd, and if the victim of Black kids throwing candies at you along with the anti-Semitic taunts...that you'd minimize the situation by a factor of 10?!

Your minimizing the situation is part of the problem...that together with your incorrect and silly analysis of the legal case robs you of any credibility.

Hey you Obama loving liberal faker. You're so intent on proving you're not racist so you take the black side over Jews every time. Pathetic and transparent.

25

 Jun 02, 2015 at 06:38 PM excuse Says:

Reply to #18  
mutti Says:

a close relative of mine stopped believing in yiddishkeit altogether after he saw how the chasidim he worked for treated the non jewish employees.

what a fool you are to believe that it's just an excuse to go down blame himself

26

 Jun 02, 2015 at 06:38 PM Who says? Says:

Reply to #16  
yonasonw Says:

"p.s.
If I had to guess, I would speculate that the driver was indeed somewhat mistreated. And when he got mad at being fired he decided to have his revenge by allegedly multiplying his mistreatment by a factor of 10."

I suppose that if called a Kike or a Jew B----rd, and if the victim of Black kids throwing candies at you along with the anti-Semitic taunts...that you'd minimize the situation by a factor of 10?!

Your minimizing the situation is part of the problem...that together with your incorrect and silly analysis of the legal case robs you of any credibility.

How dare you accuse someone of lacking credibility just because you disagree with his opinion? Who do you think you are?! I'm sure most people here agree that YOU are th eons lacking credibility.

27

 Jun 02, 2015 at 07:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

Everyone of you guys who posted these comments should consider as if the kids on the bus were there children.My kids tell me they also had black drivers all the years they went to school and chedar.NOBODY every teased with them Great for you guys out there. Take his words against us yidden!!!!!!!!!

Attention satmar fathers: Please take a course in English since u all had up to 4th grade...I have no issue with it...just learn the differences between similar sounding words and how they are used. Ex: there- dort
Their-zyera
And the many others...when used inappropriately...are laughable. And dictionaries help...google too...
Thank you

28

 Jun 02, 2015 at 09:02 PM Chaim! Says:

Satmer should countersue this bus driver for making up such terrible accusations.

Satmer kids would never ever behave this way.
In all seriousness , I can't believe anyone reading this post is believing the bus driver's claim against young Satmera Shayfelech! I'm telling you it's a big Bilbul!

29

 Jun 02, 2015 at 09:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Now I understand why the Zalmonties BP have only Heimishe drivers.

30

 Jun 02, 2015 at 09:47 PM Anonymous Says:

To #19- You are comparing apples to oranges. Melech was trying to point out that many frum parents could care less, how their kids act in public, and seem to look the other way, while their kids are creating a disturbance, either in Shul, or at Kiddushes. Regarding those who are incarcerated, in penal institutions, it is true that the majority of Yidden are there for non-violent offenses. However, there are some who have committed heinous offenses, and are a shanda to our community!

31

 Jun 02, 2015 at 10:54 PM MyThreeCents Says:

I have seen Chassidish children make fun of anyone who is not like them, even other frum Yidden. If someone doesn't dress Chassidish they call them goyim.

32

 Jun 02, 2015 at 11:04 PM chassidishgirl Says:

Thank you#10. I agree

33

 Jun 02, 2015 at 10:18 PM from-here_to-there Says:

#13 and #22
you can't just pay and make it go away with the DOL. they will be scrutinizing the payrohll records at this point.

if he was told to go to the school and stay there and he viewed it as "on-call" he is correct as they are controlling his time.

he claimed to be driving and working on the busses (cleaning...), he also claimed that they docked his pay for accidents. so to the naysayers regarding the hours - perhaps he was working all those hours (some driving, some cleaning). regarding docking his pay for accidents - from the NY Attorney General's website: "It is a violation of the labor law for an employer to make any other deduction from an employee's wages. For example, if an employee takes or damages property belonging to the employer, the employer may not recoup the value of that property by withholding all or a portion of that employee's wages. The employer, like any other party aggrieved by the negligent or criminal behavior of another, must pursue whatever remedies are available at law. He may not simply confiscate wages due to his employee without a court order permitting him to do so."

let the investigation take place and let the chips fall where they may.

34

 Jun 03, 2015 at 07:22 AM outoftown Says:

Reply to #31  
MyThreeCents Says:

I have seen Chassidish children make fun of anyone who is not like them, even other frum Yidden. If someone doesn't dress Chassidish they call them goyim.

Best comment here! You are 100% correct on that.

35

 Jun 03, 2015 at 10:02 AM Shimon Says:

Ok!
If this is a true claim, then the driver has every right to sue Satmar company/school.
I am very close with satmar myself, but I fully support them learning a lesson in how to be polite to the nations/goyim.
What about the chillul hashem? what about the 2 million$ cost if granted by the courts? I really don't know.
But I'm certainly not against satmar and hareidi communities their children an even they themselves) to be taught how to behave and respect all humans.
Respect doesn't only mean being polite on the outside. It also includes realizing that "chochmo bagoyim ta'amin". The gemoro says that if someone tells you that goyim have chochmo, believe it. If someone tells you that the goyim have torah, DON'T believe it.
Chochmo however, includes all the culture of human dignity and good behaviour and sensitivity and kindness to all. And WE must not be seen as lacking in all of that. Nothing can be a boigger chilul hashem. rl

36

 Jun 03, 2015 at 10:10 AM hashomer Says:

No one in the frum community ever addresses DECORUM in public, or even in shul. It seems that any outrageous behavior by children is acceptable. We've all seen running around and playing during davening, hysteria in the schools and playgrounds and general mayhem by frum boys. We all know why this is ignored, post 1945. But considering all the positives of Yiddishkite, this is becoming a big problem.

37

 Jun 03, 2015 at 06:57 PM Shimon Says:

Reply to #28  
Chaim! Says:

Satmer should countersue this bus driver for making up such terrible accusations.

Satmer kids would never ever behave this way.
In all seriousness , I can't believe anyone reading this post is believing the bus driver's claim against young Satmera Shayfelech! I'm telling you it's a big Bilbul!

Notwithstanding what i myself wrote before, I'm inclined to believe that it might NOT be true, if it is satmar. Satmar ARE quite well educated. They are holy and sweet, and respectful to all, and to adults (except to zionism).
It might be some other group, or, it might be a greatly exxagerated or made up story.
In fact, i don't know which group WOULD behave like that in America. It is a good imagination that COULD be true, but i agree, it is highly unlikely to be like the article says.

ah! it could also be that the driver behaves crazy and invites a backlash, and that there were one or two children (not much more) who responded and thought it was for fun.

38

 Jun 03, 2015 at 06:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #36  
hashomer Says:

No one in the frum community ever addresses DECORUM in public, or even in shul. It seems that any outrageous behavior by children is acceptable. We've all seen running around and playing during davening, hysteria in the schools and playgrounds and general mayhem by frum boys. We all know why this is ignored, post 1945. But considering all the positives of Yiddishkite, this is becoming a big problem.

Satmar children, in and around Williamsburg are naturally very well behaved, usually.

39

 Jun 04, 2015 at 10:43 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

Do school buses in New York have cameras and all that?

40

 Jun 04, 2015 at 11:03 AM Rivkah Says:

Reply to #5  
Averagejoe Says:

What's the matter with you folks? Your first assumption is that the plaintiff is honest and truthful? Every lawyer worth his salt knows he must make the claims as big and as sensational as possible to corner the defendant/insurance company into a big settlement. That is exactly what'll happen here and the truth will be completely irrelevant.

Fully agree that we have no idea what the facts are... just because this guy says so it does not make it fact. Also, I am disappointed that this article is so void of the defendant's defense, except for one line. You could have interviewed teachers on the bus, and gotten more fact.

41

 Jun 04, 2015 at 10:42 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

The video tape will tell the story. I am eager to hear how this is resolved.

42

 Jun 05, 2015 at 02:58 PM chayamom Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Nebach.... Theses kids don't know better. They grow up in their own bubble not knowing how bad these word really are and thinking the driver doesn't understand. Maybe if these kids would be allowed to play some ball they wouldn't have to throw it at the driver.

Unfortunately not knowing better shouldn't be an excuse. It should be part of chinuch to treat all people like mentchen. Lack of ball playing has nothing to do with lack of mentchlechkeit. Unfortunately in many chassidish communities anyone who is not like them is looked down upon and is ripe for ridicule. Now it's coming back to hit them in their pockets.

44

 Jun 08, 2015 at 07:12 PM Dev Says:

Unfortunately, we don't know what happened, and as Jews we need to give each other the benefit of the doubt, but that notwithstanding, the rudeness of frum boys under the age of Bar Mitzvah could improve. From my personal experience, there is no excuse me, no thank you, no please..My kids were taught derech eretz, as well as expectations to act like mentches especially dressing outwardly Orthodox. Many individuals in Chassidish circles find that treating others, outside their realm isn't important. As a frum Jew, I have witnessed this and I dress tznua, sheitel etc. It would behoove the Chassidish community to teach their children, that one may not dress like them, or look like them, but a Jew, is a Jew...Hitler didn't care much what affiliation one had, you died in the crematoria...Please, teach the kinderlach, manners.

45

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