Asian and Pacific Islander employees of the city's Juvenile Probation Department filed a class-action lawsuit complaining of a pattern of racial discrimination. The suit, which the employees filed last week without representation by an attorney, claims that hiring, promotion, and employee discipline at the department is guided by an unspoken system of racial preferences that puts Asians and Pacific Islanders at the bottom.
"We're trying to secure an attorney right now," said Alfred Lam, a Juvenile Hall counselor and one of the plaintiffs. "Once we get the attorney, we can give you more information. But the complaint speaks very clearly."
Indeed, the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for Northern
California, says the city discriminates against "Chinese American,
Japanese American, Cambodian American, Samoan American, South Asian
American ... employees ... with respect to hiring, firing, job
assignments, promotions, compensation, and other" terms of employment.
The Snitch has left a message with a Juvenile Probation Department representative and will append any comments when we hear back.
According to the complaint, there exists a "department wide" policy of preferring non-Asian employees. Lam alleges he was denied a promotion because of his race. Plaintiff Paula Leiato claims she was wrongfully disciplined, denied promotion, and subjected to harassment, while plaintiff Frank Chen claims he took an early retirement to avoid further harassment and discrimination.
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