The Justice Department is suing Georgia County, which fired two black men after one went to human resources because a white co-worker called him the N-word

The federal government is suing a small northwestern Georgia county for violating the civil rights of two black men. The men, who were fired by a local authority, say their bosses terminated their jobs because of their race.

On Thursday, October 13, the Justice Department announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Bartow County, Georgia, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia alleging that the district had two men, Carlen Loyal and Bobby Turner, fired by the County Roads Authority, according to an agency press release.

The DOJ, invoking the Civil Rights Act of 1964, found that the men’s constitutional rights were violated when their employer fired them from their jobs in retaliation after one of the family members complained about a white co-worker who treated him with the N-word in a SMS in 2019.

Bartow County has a statistical population of 110,649 people, and of those living in the area, nearly 86 percent identify as white. Blacks make up 10 percent of Bartow.

According to the press release, Loyal worked for the county highway department for nearly a decade, and his brother-in-law Turner also worked there, but not as many years.

“In 2019, Loyal complained to his manager that a white co-worker sent him a text message calling him an ‘N-word,'” the press release explained. “Following Loyal’s complaint, the HR manager called Loyal to his office where he subjected Loyal to additional serious racial harassment in front of the employee who sent the racist text message. The HR manager also wanted to know if Loyal had informed anyone else about the text message, and Loyal replied that he had informed Turner.”

After speaking to HR about the toxic work environment, less than three weeks later, both Loyal and Turner were written to for misconduct and fired. This came out of the blue as both men had no history of disciplinary action or reprimands and had been promoted several times within the department. The only time either of them got into an altercation was when Loyal reported on his colleague’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 filed by the men. After investigating the case, the EEOC found a “reasonable cause for the county to violate Title VII” and sought to get the county to rectify the matter. When the community refused to settle the matter with the men, the EEOC referred the case to the Department of Justice.

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 managers is illegal and undermines basic legal protections designed to identify and eradicate racial harassment in workplaces across the country,” Clarke said in the release.

Clarke’s view was shared by US Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan, who said: “No one should be forced to work 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 who have the courage to report such heinous behavior could face retaliation from their supervisor and face termination of their job,” continued Buchanan. “Our office will use our resources vigorously and continuously to address this type of illegal discrimination in the workplace.”

With the lawsuit, the US government wants the district to develop and implement new policies that directly address discrimination and retaliation. The DOJ is also asking Loyal and Turner to receive financial compensation for the damages they have suffered over the past three years as a result of their release and this ordeal. The Justice Department is suing Georgia County, which fired two black men after one went to human resources because a white co-worker called him the N-word

James Brien

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