LOS ANGELES – Three Latino men who sued the Clark County Department of Public Works for discrimination and racial bias were awarded $200,000 each by a jury on Tuesday.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and the Seattle law firm of Breskin, Townsend and Johnson filed a federal lawsuit in June 2021 on behalf of Elias Peña, Isaiah Hutson, and Ray Alanis Elias Pena. The men were members of a road crew for the Clark County Public Works Department in Washington State.
Beginning in 2017, Peña and Hutson began to be harassed by non-Latino supervisors and co-workers who directed racist remarks at them. In one instance, a supervisor said that Clark County was being ruined by “beaners and spics.” In 2018, Alanis joined the department and soon began to hear co-workers make derogatory remarks about Latinos, such as comparing Latinos to a cancer that needed to be cut out. At one point, all of the department’s Latinos were assigned to the same road crew, which non-Latino supervisors and co-workers referred to as the “brown crew,” and the “landscaping crew” who work for “their white masters.”
All three men complained to the county’s Human Resources department and the county manager, but their complaints were dismissed or ignored.
The jury concluded that Clark County violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, a state law that prohibits discriminatory practices in employment and the workplace.
Please attribute the following statement on today’s ruling to Luis L. Lozada a staff attorney with MALDEF: “After years of experiencing a hostile work environment at Clark County, our clients have finally been vindicated. The jury heard their stories and believed them.”
Please attribute the following statement on today’s ruling to Roger Townsend of Breskin, Townsend and Johnson: “Our clients are tremendously gratified for a unanimous decision from the jury recognizing their claims for a hostile work environment against Clark County.”
Read the verdict HERE