Los Angeles to pay out $3.8 million in racial bias lawsuit … but wait till you hear the details

Los Angeles to pay out $3.8 million in racial bias lawsuit … but wait till you hear the details

The broad strokes are familiar: A man files and wins a racial discrimination lawsuit against a former employer who was no nakedly biased against his kind that he allegedly told the worker, “I hate” your “people.”

The main difference in this case is that the plaintiff is white and the defendant is Hispanic.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

Five years after a white city parks worker accused a former supervisor of disparaging his skin color, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a multimillion-dollar payout to satisfy a court judgment….

The council voted unanimously Wednesday to pay former gardener James Duffy nearly $3.8 million plus accrued interest in a court judgment that found Duffy suffered years of harassment and retaliation while working for the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Duffy filed and won a lawsuit against the city in 2011 alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on his race and disability. The city appealed, but a state appeals court affirmed the verdict.

According to the original complaint, race became an issue when Abel Perez became Duffy’s foreman. In one incident, Perez allegedly told Duffy, “I hate white people.”

But the mistreatment didn’t stop at just words. Duffy stated in the complaint that Perez gave him “bad assignments” and would not assign anyone to help him. Hispanic gardeners, in contrast, usually got two assistants. Hispanic employees were also routinely promoted during this period, while Duffy was not.

The final straw came when Duffy suffered an injury in an on-the-job accident where he slipped on wet concrete and “split his head open”:

The complaint describes incidents in which Duffy’s supervisors tried to disorient him after the injury. For example, Duffy said he was told by supervisors that he had not been given assignments when he had and that he had failed to complete assignments that he had never received.

In 2010, Duffy retired, claiming he was forced into it by systematic abuse based on his race. A portion of the complain noted that the plaintiff “believes and alleges that defendants constructively terminated his employment by forcing him to retire.”

Perez, who the Times says, could not be reached for comment is still employed as a senior park maintenance supervisor.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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