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Friday, December 12, 2008
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Justice Department Files Lawsuit Alleging Race Discrimination by the City of Bonita Springs, Florida

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against the City of Bonita Springs, Fla., alleging that the City discriminated against an African-American employee, Joseph W. Johnson, by subjecting him to a racially hostile work environment.

The Department’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleges that the City violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by subjecting Johnson to a hostile work environment, when, among other things, his immediate supervisor repeatedly used racial slurs and epithets to refer to Johnson and other minorities who used the City’s recreational facility where Johnson works running a youth basketball program. The complaint further alleges that white coworkers of Johnson also used racial slurs and epithets to refer to Johnson. According to the suit, despite Johnson’s complaints to City management about the racial harassment in his workplace, the City failed to take appropriate corrective action to remedy the situation.

"Title VII protects employees who are subjected to racially hostile work environments," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department takes very seriously these allegations of racial slurs in the workplace."

The enforcement of Title VII has been a priority of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division; and the complaint filed against Bonita Springs is the tenth Title VII complaint the Division has filed this year. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its Web site at