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USDOJ sues Bonita Springs for racial discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against the city of Bonita Springs, claiming it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by harboring a racially hostile environment in the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Joseph Johnson worked as a senior parks and recreation specialist in charge of the city’s youth basketball program.

According to the lawsuit, Johnson’s supervisor, Jack Campbell, referred to blacks as “monkeys” and called Hispanics “dogs” and “burritos.” Johnson also alleges that employees, including Campbell and another supervisor, regularly used the n-word to refer to him. One wore a T-shirt bearing the Confederate flag. When Johnson complained, nothing happened, the lawsuit claims.

In 2006, following an argument between Johnson and a white co-worker, Campbell disciplined Johnson. Johnson complained to city management, noting that no white employees had been disciplined for harassing him. The city overturned the disciplinary actions against Johnson, but failed to address his allegations of racial harassment.

In May 2006, the words “white power” were scratched on the building near where Johnson usually parked. Johnson complained, but the graffiti remained for 45 days. Shortly after, Johnson filed charges with the EEOC, which led to the DOJ’s lawsuit. The DOJ seeks a jury trial.

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