Seattle employee sues city over alleged anti-white racial discrimination
Aug 30, 2023, 7:30 AM | Updated: 11:30 am
A lawsuit against the City of Seattle alleging a “hostile work environment” and “discrimination” against a white man who worked in the Human Services Department (HSD) is heading to court.
Joshua Diemert began his employment with the City of Seattle in 2013. His attorneys claimed since he first set foot in the office, he faced discrimination that led to a negative impact on his physical and mental health.
The city routinely urged Diemert to join race-based affinity groups and required him to participate in training sessions that demeaned and degraded him based on his racial and ethnic identity, the complaint reads. It also states his feelings were not taken into consideration and he was rejected from chances to excel professionally.
He was chastised and punished for combatting racially discriminatory hiring practices by HSD colleagues. And he was denied opportunities for advancement by the city based on his racial and ethnic identity. His supervisors and other colleagues continually dismissed his concerns over a period of years and claimed he could not be a victim of racism and discrimination because he possessed ‘white privilege.’
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“Everything from racially mandated training to racial slurs, and just being belittled every day, and being denied opportunities solely because of the color of his skin,” Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) attorney Laura D’Agostino told KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “And so when Joshua approached us, he also provided us with extensive details about everything that he went through.”
PLF filed a complaint in federal court, bringing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the Washington statute that enforces it.
“What the city was arguing was, you all haven’t presented enough facts for the claims you’re bringing, there’s not enough there,” D’Agostino explained. “And all you’re complaining about is diversity training. That’s how they tried to characterize this case.”
D’Agostino said the city claimed PLF didn’t file the complaint within the required timeframe.
“If there are any claims that you base it on the facts that are outside of the timeframe, those are dismissed, but otherwise your claims can proceed,” D’Agostino explained. “The court really took the time to not only read our complaint, and to see all of the facts that Diemert brought up. But it rejected the city’s attempt to characterize the complaint into something it wasn’t.”
She explained that to the extent PLF brought up claims that occurred years ago, “they were only used to show the progression of that hostility” that began with the start of his employment.
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“Some of the facts that we alleged that were outside of that timeframe are allowed because as part of the racially hostile work environment, you can bring up facts that occurred years ago to show that continuing trend of hostility,” D’Agostino said.
The fact the courts are allowing this to go to trial is a victory itself, D’Agostino explained.
“Truthfully, given all of the just by virtue of our work, we’re often in jurisdictions that are hostile to the claims we’re bringing for liberty and for equal protection. But this was a very pleasant and welcome order,” she said. “And we’re very excited. We hope that this is something that sets a positive precedent across the country for other employees who may be facing similar cases and that they can know their claims are not going to be dismissed just because a city or government says, ‘Hey, we’re doing this because of training.'”
Diemert’s case is scheduled to go to trial next year.
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“We want to take a stand for these important … constitutional principles. Because Diemert wants to vindicate his rights and he wants to be a voice for other people who may be finding themselves in a similar situation,” D’Agostino added.
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