City of West Palm Beach to settle racial discrimination lawsuit

West Palm Beach city commissioners are expected to approve a deal Tuesday night to end a racial discrimination lawsuit.

City staff members are recommending that commissioners approve the $125,000 settlement deal.

The payment would be made within weeks to Ira Green, a former employee who says he was fired in 2012 after filing complaints about a hostile work environment and supervisors who used racially charged language around black employees.

Green worked for nearly three years at the city’s Waste Water Plant.

In the lawsuit filed in 2014 against the city, Green claims that “on or about Jan. 18, 2012, Supervisor Bonnie Kemp, white, used an offensive racial slur in the presence of Plaintiff and another African American employee of the Defendant, Gerry Willis, referring to both of them as ‘black monkeys.'”

Green followed up by filing a complaint with the city. Kemp was subsequently fired, but later reinstated following arbitration.

After filing the complaints, Green says the “harassing” behavior continued.

Green said white employees were also given favorable treatment and believes he was targeted by supervisors by being moved to a less than desirable work shift, passed over for promotions and paid less than other white employees with less experience.

“He was not happy about losing his job,” said Esidro Garcia, an employment attorney representing Green. “He wanted to get his job back, primarily, but that’s not always possible. Employers are not always willing to take employees back and he wanted to be vindicated and clear his name through a public trial.”

City spokeswoman Kathleen Walter said the city was withholding comment on the settlement of pending litigation.

According to documents posted to the city’s website outlining the framework of the settlement deal, the city — if approved by commissioners — will pay out $125,000 while also not admitting any liability.

There is “zero tolerance” for unlawful conduct, including discrimination and/or workplace violence, according to city policy.

The City actively promotes and provides training to all employees regarding equal employment opportunities, respectful communication, conflict resolution, and sensitivity training, among many other positive employee relations topics. The City’s Human Resource department has an open door to any concerns employees may have regarding fairness in the workplace and encourages employees to call, visit or email with any concerns regarding fairness in the workplace.

As part of the settlement deal, Green will no longer be eligible to work for or volunteer for the city in the future.

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