Paterson and the White Photographer

Paterson denies firing photographer in 2003 because he was white

Just as he’s about to become the state’s first, David Paterson faces allegations he fostered reverse discrimination as state Senate Democratic leader.

Paterson is battling a federal suit by a white staff photographer who says he was fired in 2003 so his job could be given to a black man.

The soon-to-be governor, who is legally blind, insisted the replacement of a white employee with a black employee was race neutral because he literally couldn’t see the difference.

“Given my visual impairment, I did not know for certain the race of either,” Paterson said.

The suit was filed after the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ruled that “there is reason to believe that [civil rights violations have occurred” in the case.The agency found a possible pattern of discrimination, noting that the Democrats in the Republican-controlled state Senate also fired a white graphic artist and replaced her with a Hispanic after Paterson took the leadership post.

Paterson served as Senate minority party leader from 2002 until 2006, when he became lieutenant governor under Gov. Spitzer.