Monday, December 2, 2019
Riverside County to settle lawsuit alleging racism in waste department for $325,000
Blog note: this article references a 2012 grand jury report addressing racist behavior. Sometimes it takes many years for grand juries to be vindicated. Good research by there reporter.
Riverside County has agreed to pay $325,000 to settle a lawsuit in which a former waste management employee alleged that co-workers called him racial slurs and he faced retaliation for complaining.
“The county determined the best course would be to settle (Frederick Ejiofor’s) claim rather than bear the expense of continued litigation,” county spokeswoman Brooke Federico wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 12.
“The settlement amount of $325,000 does not acknowledge that any of the allegations were accurate,” she wrote.
The county investigates all reports of discrimination and has a zero-tolerance policy on such incidents, she said.
The law firm representing Ejiofor, Rodriguez Apodaca Law Firm LLP, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 13. At the time of the lawsuit, Ejiofor was a Riverside County resident.
The lawsuit, filed in Riverside County Superior Court in June 2017, alleged Ejiofor, who is black and started work as a landfill safety monitor in June 2012, was called a racial epithet by a co-worker on roughly 40 occasions.
Another co-worker called Ejiofor “a stupid African” and used a racial slur to describe him twice in 2014, the lawsuit alleged. A third employee said “he did not like to hire black people because he viewed them as a threat” while Ejiofor’s supervisor said “You think you can come from Africa and file a lawsuit against us,” according to the lawsuit.
Ejiofor complained, but was told to stop “or his peer evaluations would be negatively affected,” the lawsuit read. He was denied a raise and eventually fired “in violation of public policy,” the lawsuit alleged.
The county’s Department of Waste Resources, which operates six landfills, was the subject of a 2012 civil grand jury report that outlined what jurors described as a pattern of racist behavior.
The county found the “vast majority” of the report’s findings “could not be substantiated,” Federico said.
November 14, 2019
By Jeff Horseman