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MBTA nears deal to revamp employment rules after getting hit with discrimination complaints

The MBTA has a long history of discrimination complaints filed against it by both minority and women employees.
The MBTA has a long history of discrimination complaints filed against it by both minority and women employees.David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo

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State transportation officials are nearing a deal with the federal government to revamp their employment practices to address a mountain of complaints lodged against the MBTA for allegedly discriminating against minorities and women over the years in hiring, pay, and promotions.

The MBTA has a long history of bias complaints: Investigators for the attorney general found “widespread discrimination, harassment, and retaliation’’ at the agency in 1997, and it lost several high-profile lawsuits in 1999 and 2001. In recent years, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has received more complaints against the T than any other organization, public or private, a Globe analysis shows.

Federal and state officials confirmed they are close to finalizing a plan to address concerns raised in a scorching letter from the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration last August that said the state was probably violating employment rules for agencies that receive federal funding.

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