The federal government is suing a small northwestern county in Georgia for violating the civil rights of two Black men. The men who were fired by a municipal agency allege their supervisors terminated their employment because of their race.
On Thursday, Oct. 13, the Justice Department announced it filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Bartow County, Georgia, alleging the county fired two men, Carlen Loyal and Bobby Turner, from the county’s road department, according to a release put out by the agency.
The DOJ invoked the Civil Rights Act of 1964, stating the men’s constitutional rights were violated when their employer dismissed them from their jobs in retaliation after one of the family members complained about a white co-worker referring to him by the N-word in a text message in 2019.
Bartow County has a population of 110,649 people, according to statistics, and of the residents in the area almost 86 percent identify as white. Blacks make up 10 percent of Bartow.
According to the release, Loyal worked for the county’s road department for almost a decade and his brother-in-law, Turner, also worked there, but not for as many years.
“In 2019, Loyal complained to his supervisor that a white co-worker sent him a text message referring to him as an ‘n-word,’” the release explained. “After Loyal’s complaint, the human resources (HR) director called Loyal into his office, where he subjected Loyal to additional, severe racial harassment in front of the employee who sent the racist text message. The HR director also demanded to know whether Loyal had informed anyone else of the text message, and Loyal responded that he had informed Turner.”
After he spoke to human resources about the toxic work environment, less than three weeks later both Loyal and Turner were written up for misconduct and fired from their jobs. This came out of the blue, as both men had no history of discipline or reprimand and had been promoted several times within the department. The only time either of them had been involved in any altercation, was when Loyal reported his co-worker’s alleged bigoted behavior.
When the men lost their jobs, they filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC’s Atlanta District Office began investigating the charges waged by the men. After researching the case, the EEOC found a “reasonable cause that the County violated Title VII,” and they tried to have the county rectify the matter. When the municipality refused to fix things with the men, the EEOC referred the case to the Justice Department.
Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said, “No employee should have to endure racial harassment or retaliation in the workplace, especially racial slurs.”
“Punishing employees for reporting harassment and discrimination to their supervisors is illegal and undermines the basic statutory protections designed to identify and root out racial harassment in workplaces across the country,” Clarke further stated in the press release.
Clarke’s sentiment was echoed by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan, who said, “No one should be forced to labor in an environment where employers condone racial slurs and employees are expected to tolerate them.”
“It is also unacceptable for an employer to foster a work environment where employees with the courage to report such abhorrent behavior experience retaliation from supervisors and face termination of their jobs,” Buchanan continues. “Our office will vigorously and continuously leverage our resources to address this type of illegal discrimination in the workplace.”
With the lawsuit, the U.S. government wants the county to create and implement new policies that will directly deal with discrimination and retaliation. The DOJ is also asking for Loyal and Turner to receive monetary compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of being fired and going through this ordeal over the past three years.
This content was originally published here.