The United States has sued the New York City Department of Education, saying it permitted a Queens high school to discriminate against black teachers.

Thursday's lawsuit in Manhattan federal court seeks to force the city to take steps to prevent future discrimination and pay "sufficient damages" to any discrimination victims.

It said the discrimination occurred during the 2012-2013 school year at Pan American International High School. The lawsuit said the victims included three black teachers among the school's 27 teachers.

The lawsuit said the school's principal made derogatory racial comments to an assistant principal about the teachers. She allegedly said one "looked like a gorilla in a sweater" and made racist remarks about other teachers' lips and hair.

The city's law department says it is reviewing the lawsuit.