Black and Latino leaders file federal civil rights grievance towards metropolis of Boston alleging discrimination in public contracting

A group of black and Latin American organizations filed a civil rights complaint against the city of Boston on Wednesday alleging that its public procurement system is a pattern of discrimination against businesses owned by black and Latin American companies.

Massachusetts’ Black Economic Council, the Greater Boston Latino Network, and Amplify Latinx filed a complaint with the Department of Justice and Transportation after the city recently completed a disparity study that found only 1.2 percent of its nearly 2.2 percent from 2014 to 2019 Billions of dollars of its procurement dollars went to black and Latino owned companies.

The complaint, citing the city’s most recent disparity study, which analyzed 47,801 contracts, sets out how the city could have given 4.8 percent of its procurement dollars to black and Latino owned companies based on the availability of such companies . That means the city could have given them an additional $ 76 million.

The groups claim that the contractual practices violate not only federal civil rights law, but also regulations prohibiting recipients of federal funds such as the City of Boston from “engaging in unjustified practices that have diverse effects and exclude minorities”.

The complaint comes as Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh prepares to take bold action to direct more municipal contract dollars to businesses of color through an executive order designed to set goals.

Walsh launched the Disparity Study in 2018 to address the city’s poor track record of spending with businesses owned by colored people and women – and laid the legal groundwork for race and gender-conscious action that could withstand legal challenge.

Ironically, black and Latin American groups represented by civil rights lawyers use the results of the disparity study to illustrate profound discrimination against color entrepreneurs.

A Walsh spokesman was unable to comment on the complaint.

Shirley Leung is a business columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].

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