Seattle, WA; November 16, 2022: Today, Joshua Diemert, a former City of Seattle employee, filed a federal lawsuit against the City and Mayor Bruce Harrell for subjecting him to a racially hostile work environment.
Passionate and devoted to his job, Diemert was hired by the city’s Human Services Department (HSD) in 2013. Despite being recognized for excellent work, he could not overcome the city’s overt discrimination against him through its Race and Social Justice Initiative.
Diemert endured years of harassment and racial discrimination in the workplace. Some incidents officially sanctioned by the city were so severe that they created a racially hostile working environment. For example:
- He was pressured to resign from a position rather than take FMLA leave because he was told that taking FMLA leave would be an exercise of his “white privilege” and would deny a “person of color” an opportunity for promotion.
- On multiple occasions, upper-level managers verbally told him and other department employees that new positions should be filled with people of color, particularly senior roles.
- He was forced to attend training that demanded he acknowledge his complicity in racism, not based on his personal actions or beliefs but because he is white.
- When he spoke up against egregiously racist messaging at a required workshop, his coworkers labeled him a white supremacist. And belligerent colleagues continuously berated him about his race.
“Instead of supporting its employees and providing them with opportunities, the City of Seattle is encouraging racial discrimination and harassment through its Race and Social Justice Initiative,” said Laura D’Agostino, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Seattle employees should be treated as individuals with dignity and evaluated by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”
Represented at no charge by Pacific Legal Foundation, Diemert is suing to vindicate his right to workplace equality and to protect everyone’s right to be judged by the content of their character and work product.
The case is Joshua Diemert v. City of Seattle, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.