FORMER EMPLOYEE WINS OVER $950,000 IN RACIAL HARASSMENT CASE AGAINST HOWARD COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS
Darrell Fletcher faced constant racial harassment and discrimination from white co-workers and supervisors while working at Howard County’s Department of Public Works
ELLICOTT CITY, MD. – On Wednesday evening, a jury ruled in favor of Darrell Fletcher, a Black former employee of Howard County’s Department of Public Works (DPW), in a trial regarding a claim of racial harassment he brought against the county. Mr. Fletcher was subject to repeated harassment from white co-workers, including racial slurs, physical assault, claims he was unqualified, and refusals to be trained by him. Despite Mr. Fletcher’s reporting of the harassment to his supervisors on numerous occasions, the DPW failed to take effective action to protect him. He was awarded $961,556.40 in compensatory damages.
“Mr. Fletcher showed incredible fortitude in the face of disgusting mistreatment. While nothing can fully repair the emotional and economic damage that this abuse caused him, today’s verdict delivers an important measure of justice,” said David Karman, Associate Attorney at Gilbert Employment Law and one of the lawyers representing Mr. Fletcher. “We are proud to have helped make things right for him and his family.”
Mr. Fletcher was hired as a Utility Worker II at the DPW’s Bureau of Utilities (BOU) in October 2018, placing him above several white co-workers who were designated as Utility Worker I. From his first day, his co-workers claimed that he was only hired for the position because he must be related to George Gibson, a superintendent at the BOU who is also Black. This clique of white co-workers consisted of peers and supervisors alike, meaning Mr. Fletcher was subjected to discriminatory treatment from all sides. He was assigned work that fell beneath his rank while white co-workers who were junior to him were given tasks that should have been his responsibility. These co-workers referred to him using racial slurs and called him “boy”, refused to train him or be trained by him, and even physically pushed him while he was walking away from an altercation at a sewer rig.
“I’ve always had a connection to construction work from my family so I was proud to work at the DPW. But the emotional pain of dealing with constant racism wore on me. It’s been an extremely difficult journey to get back on my feet and get to a better place. I spent so long dealing with the fallout the harassment had on me and my family but I’m very relieved that we’re finally here today, ” said Darrell Fletcher. “My honest hope is that this case creates long-overdue change at the DPW to address these issues – no one should have to endure what I faced in their place of work.”
Mr. Fletcher went to report the harassment to his supervisors both verbally and in written complaints on several occasions, but the DPW failed to appropriately address the situation and protect Mr. Fletcher from the ongoing discrimination. He suffered severe mental and eventually physical distress from dealing with this treatment on a routine basis until his doctor informed him that he shouldn’t work under these circumstances given the negative effects it was having on his health. He ultimately was ultimately let go by the department for his medical inability to perform his duties. Unable to get work in the same field, Mr. Fletcher has been forced to work as a truck driver and drives over 3,500 miles each week to support his family.
About Gilbert Employment Law, P.C.
Gilbert Employment Law, P.C., is the worker’s voice in litigation involving employee rights violations. Gilbert’s attorneys are highly skilled in representing federal employees before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other federal administrative agencies. Gilbert Employment Law, P.C., has also represented employees in county and state courts, as well as U.S. District and Appeals Courts.
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