The City of Long Beach is being sued by Black employees as they failed to provide the Black employees with equal employment opportunities as required by law. Through the lawsuit, the City is called to address the ongoing and historical systemic racism that hurts Black employees and their families’ economic and emotional wellbeing.
Unlike their non-Black colleagues, the plaintiffs have been paid less; denied promotions due to their race; subjected to racist comments, harassment, and treatment; were retaliated against; only to be ignored by management and Human Resources. City leaders deny their role in perpetuating a lack of equal employment opportunities for Black employees and creating a work culture of white supremacy.
“It is incumbent on the City of Long Beach and all municipalities to do right by its Black employees,” said Felicia Medina, a class action attorney who specializes in race disrimination.
“Our clients are seeking equity and change. It is our hope that the leadership will see this lawsuit as an opportunity to join its employees as problem solvers to both name and end discriminatory policies and practices.”
According to the City’s 2018 Workforce Demographics Report, the City’s workforce is made up of 13% Black employees; of which 65% made under $60,000, compared to white employees – 38% of the workforce – being 34%. However, 54% of City employees that were in the $180,000+ salary bracket are white, compared to their Black colleagues being at 13%.
“The class action vehicle is necessary here to force the City and its leadership to stop hiding behind diversity doublespeak and enact the changes Black City employees want to see,” said Shauna Madison, a Managing Partner at Medina Orthwein LLP.
The discrimination within the workplace causes harm to the individuals experiencing it.
“Persistent and pervasive anti-Blackness and workplace oppression cause physiological, cognitive, and emotional harm that not only negatively impacts Black people’s quality of life but can literally shorten it, this is unacceptable. Racial battle fatigue and trauma are real, and we are glad to see that the CDC and other health organizations have named racism as a public health emergency and concern. The next step is to prioritize Black people’s health and opportunities in the workplace,” said Jennifer Orthwein, a clinical psychologist and Founding Partner at Medina Orthwein LLP.
After being served with the complaint – with the Class size being around 1,000 people – the City can either answer or try to dismiss certain claims.
By Jess Gutierrez