WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), alleging the agency discriminated against a black male former employee on the basis of race and/or sex by subjecting him to a hostile work environment and then terminating him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The suit was filed in federal district court in the Western District of Texas.
According to the department’s complaint, from early 2007 until his termination in July 2007, Michael Lewis was subjected to race- and gender-based slurs and insults and other objectionable conduct by his first- and second-line supervisors. Additionally, the supervisors ignored and even ridiculed his repeated complaints to them about being harassed by one of his assigned clients at DFPS, in contrast to the office’s prior practice of transferring non-black, female investigators from cases in which they experienced harassment from clients. The racial and sexual harassment of Lewis ultimately culminated in his termination.
“All workers have the right to go to work each without facing discrimination and without having to suffer racial and sexual harassment. Public employers should set an example for others by upholding the law and taking prompt and effective action to stop discrimination when it occurs,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously pursue such violations of Title VII.”
The El Paso, Texas, area office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated and attempted to resolve Lewis’s charge of discrimination before referring it to the Department of Justice for litigation. More information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.
The enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its websites at www.justice.gov/crt/ and www.justice.gov/crt/emp/ .