Seattle Sued by White Employee for ‘Racially Hostile’ Work Environment

Plaintiff says he was denied opportunities.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Earlier this month, a former employee of the Seattle Municipality sued the City of Seattle for allegedly fostering a “racially hostile” work atmosphere.
  • Joshua Diemert, the plaintiff, claims that he was denied employment possibilities at Seattle’s Human Services Department due to his race, made to sit through training sessions focused on race, encouraged to join “race-based affinity groups,” and accused of enjoying “white privilege.”
  • The plaintiff also claims he was subject to belligerent interactions with his co-workers and he cited emails that referred to Diemert as “some [expletive]” and the “reincarnation of the people that shot native Americans from trains, rounded up jews [sic] for the camps, hunted down gypsies in Europe and runaway slaves in America.” 
  • Diemert requests a ruling that Seattle’s actions infringed on his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. He also asks for up to $300,000 in damages.
FROM PLAINTIFF’S REPRESENTATION:
  • “The City treated Mr. Diemert with hostility based on his race when they racially segregated staff meetings, offered and required race-based programming, promoted affinity groups, and maintained a commitment to making racial distinctions among City staff,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Laura D’Agostino, who represents Diemert. “Mr. Diemert complained about these things to the City through his managers but they failed to stop it.”
  • “The city’s refusal to reasonably address and stop the race-based hostility violates the Equal Protection Clause, which protects Mr. Diemert’s right to a workplace free of racial harassment,” she continued.
BACKGROUND:
  • Drug company Pfizer was recently found to have violated discrimination laws by blocking white and Asian applicants from fellowship programs, American Faith previously reported.
  • The company’s “Breakthrough Fellowship” provides college students with a master’s degree that is fully funded as well as several years of employment.
  • Recently, the fellowship requirements specified that it only accepts applications from “Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American” students.
  • While the company claims to be an “equal opportunity employer,” its requirements say that applicants must “meet the program’s goals of increasing the pipeline for Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic and Native Americans.”