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Sterling Employment Law

2 Michigan employees sue for race discrimination

One of two Genesee County Road Commission employees who alleged racial discrimination accepted a settlement of $185,000 after a trial began on Nov. 15. The other employee's claim was still in progress at the time of the report. Their claims alleged that they were discriminated against because they were two Caucasians who reported that an African-American coworker might have been intoxicated on the job to their African-American supervisors. Other employees apparently witnessed the intoxicated behavior, but they did not report it due to fear of retaliation.

The accused employee filed his own federal lawsuit against the road commission. He claimed that he was eventually fired after being declined promotions based on alcoholism. He claimed that alcoholism is a disability. After that lawsuit was dismissed by a judge, he proceeded to file additional lawsuits against the Genesee County Sheriff's Department and Grand Blanc Township alleging that a traffic stop was unjustified. The traffic stop took place after the two Caucasian employees reported that the accused employee appeared to be intoxicated.

The two who made the report claim that, after they spoke with their supervisors, they were suspended for 10 days and that improper write-ups were added to their files. The road commission denied any wrongdoing and claimed that a settlement was in its best interest. The employee who accepted a settlement resigned from the road commission, while the employee who has not accepted a settlement is expecting to begin a new trial with a new jury in March.

Despite advancements in society, discrimination still occurs in many workplaces. When an employee feels that he or she has been discriminated against due to race, gender, national origin, color, pregnancy or religion, he or she might choose to file a claim against the employer. Such a claim could be used to compensate the employee for any unjustified retaliatory measures or wrongful termination.

Source: Mlive.com, "Genesee County Road Commission pays $185,000 to settle reverse discrimination, whistleblower lawsuit", Gary Ridley, December 18, 2013

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