The city of Lansing has been in the news for lawsuits over lead contamination in its water. But its city government and its firefighter’s union also face legal problems similar to the business litigation issues faced by companies charged with employment discrimination.

The lawsuit

In recent lawsuit, nine black current and former city employees charged that they underwent race-based unwelcome communication and conduct that seriously interfered with their employment. The plaintiffs also alleged that the mayor’s administration and some of the city’s fire union officials violated Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Plaintiffs included several current and former members of the city’s fire department including its former chief, a fired scheduler for the mayor and a former technology director for the city. The mayor, deputy mayor, the firefighter’s union and the union’s president were named defendants.

The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 12 in the 30th Circuit Court. Plaintiffs are seeking a minimum $75,000 in damages and attorney fees. It is the second racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the city since this mayor took office. That lawsuit involves a city firefighter.

Allegations

The plaintiffs charged that they had to undergo repeated and continuous discrimination, hostile working environments and unfavorable work actions such as suspensions, terminations and being forced from their jobs because of their race. The plaintiffs also claim that they faced retaliation for complaining to management.

They said that they were targeted for these hostile actions since they began their employment with the city. The plaintiffs attributed this to the city’s systemic racism.

Some specific allegations include one of the plaintiffs who was fired. She claimed that the deputy mayor made a racial and sexually explicit comment to her in Feb.

An official also told an employee who was also terminated that women of color have a bad attitude, a chip on their shoulder and need to learn how to take direction. The deputy mayor also allegedly told a plaintiff that another official had a problem with people of color and that the employee intimidated that official because she grew up in Troy.

An attorney can help victims of employment discrimination build a strategy to protect their rights. They can also pursue compensation in a court, negotiation, or arbitration.