By Pierre R. Berastain
David Womble, a supervisor of facilities management in Dallas County, received a pay raise after R.L. Lawson filed a complaint indicating Womble had made racial and anti-gay remarks. Now, Dallas County is being sued for sixty million dollars.
According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs were subjected to a racist and discriminatory work environment that included graffiti with the words “white power”, a “black Coke can found hanging with a “noose” from a box in the North Tower engine room,” and better tools for white workers. Womble is also said to have worn a fake gold tooth while mocking his black subordinates.
Dallas County maintenance workers allege racial discrimination in federal lawsuit
Dallas County has a history of racial discrimination in its jail maintenance department and officials have done little about numerous complaints in recent years, even boosting the pay of one white supervisor at the center of the allegations, a $60 million federal lawsuit claims.
County officials have said they are investigating allegations in that department after several black employees complained about racist graffiti and mistreatment. But an attorney for Dennis Jones, R.L. Lawson and Clarence Jones said it’s too little, too late.
“If Dallas County was serious in addressing the problems, this action would have been taken long before now,” said the attorney, Larry E. Jarrett.
County officials declined to comment about the investigation or the allegations because of the pending lawsuit. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he couldn’t comment but said the county is “committed to providing a nondiscriminatory workplace for all of its employees.”
The problems allegedly began in 2010 when black maintenance employees first complained. Grievances tell of “white power” epithets spray-painted on jail walls, anti-gay jokes, a noose and racially insensitive remarks made by white supervisors.
One supervisor allegedly put false gold teeth in his mouth to mock a black subordinate.
Jarrett said he has photographs of the graffiti and what he says was a noose, as well as witnesses to the hostile work environment.
Dennis Jones, 51, who initiated the lawsuit, claims he was fired along with two other black employees — LaParker Smith and Darian Fisher — for having felony records even though they disclosed their records when they were hired. They were the only ones fired. The lawsuit said whites and Hispanics with similar backgrounds were allowed to keep working.
All three men were later rehired.
The lawsuit was originally filed last year and amended to include Lawson and Clarence Jones this month.
Clarence Jones, 27, who is not related to Dennis Jones, filed a grievance through the county in February, saying he went to the depopulated Bill Decker jail on his normal rounds and saw the words “white power” sprayed on the walls in the maintenance shop. He said in the grievance that management “does not do enough to inform employees of what harassment is nor admonish or warn individuals to abstain from such behaviors.”
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