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DOJ Civil Rights Division Sued for Discrimination

Charged with the task of enforcing federal anti-discrimination statutes the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division often finds itself involved in a variety of civil rights actions around the country.  But for all of its experience in civil rights case, the Division now finds itself in an unfamiliar role in a discrimination lawsuit:  the role of defendant. 

The Blog the Legal Times reports that Joi Hyatte, a paralegal in the Civil Rights Division, has filed a suit claiming she was discriminated and harassed by managers who repeatedly passed her over for advancement because she is African-American. The complaint alleges that ex-voting section chief John Tanner and former section 5 unit chief Yvette Rivera recruited white and Hispanic candidates from outside the department for higher paying positions and did not offer the vacancies to DOJ paralegals, which violated standard hiring procedures.   And the department allegedly tolerated racially and sexually offensive conduct from three white male lawyers who mocked a Caucasian analyst for displaying pictures of prominent black civil rights leaders in her office.

So far, at least on the surface, the case doesn't look good for DOJ. John Tanner left the Justice Department last year after attracting congressional criticism for undermining the mission of the division, as well as for controversial remarks about the impact of voter ID laws on minorities.  And Rivera, for unexplained reasons, was demoted as acting section 5 unit chief earlier this year.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 30, 2008 at 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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