Sacramento County and DHA facing several lawsuits for discrimination and failure to promote African Americans

Robert J Hansen

DHA engaged in intentional and systematic discrimination against African American employees
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Sacramento, Calif. - By Robert J Hanssn

Several African American Sacramento County employees are suing Sacramento County for harassment, discrimination, and being denied promotion according to county and federal court records.

In individual lawsuits, employees at the Department of Human Assistance (DHA) all claim to have experienced on-the-job harassment, discrimination and were precluded from meaningful advancement in their careers as recently as last year.

DHA provides services like general assistance, foster care, Medi-Cal, and job services for the people of Sacramento and has over 2000 employees.

County Executive Ann Edwards was the director of DHA from 2014 until she was appointed to her current position. Newly appointed DHA director Ethan Dye worked under Edwards during that same time.

Both Dye and Edwards’ appointments were unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Cherie Scoggins has worked with Sacramento County since 2002 and at DHA since 2014 and claims to have applied for dozens of positions without success.

In her complaint, Scoggins said she noticed those positions were going to people “overwhelmingly non-African American” and “individuals with less experience and education.”

Also filed in her complaint, Scoggins claims she was retaliated against for trying to report harassment and discrimination.

Scoggins’ next court date is in 2023 as the case is being reviewed for a possible settlement.

Patrick Hunter’s case was filed in 2019 and has worked with the County for 21 years, all of that time with DHA.

Hunter alleged the county of harassment and discrimination based on race, experienced retaliation for reporting discrimination and harassment, and as a result, denied promotion.

The lawsuit also alleges there is a pattern of African American men exiting from employment and a pattern of failure to promote Black men and nepotism-based promotion at DHA.

He has been told he has been perceived as “aggressive” as he is an outspoken African American male and participates in union activities according to court documents.

Hunter was denied promotion more than 57 times and that candidates for promotion were pre-selected or at least preferred.

Hunter is seeking lost wages and salary, bonuses, benefits as a result of the discrimination experienced with the County. His next court date is also in 2023.

Essence Webb worked with the County from 2002 to 2018 claims the discrimination she experienced was because of a new supervisor during her last three years of employment.

According to case documents, Webb was called an n-word by a coworker and was retaliated against verbally after she filed a complaint about the incident. Then she began receiving retaliatory performance reviews.

Bennie Freeman has worked for the County for 15 years and also has a case in federal court against DHA for discrimination and failing to promote him.

DHA has engaged in intentional and systematic action, pattern, and discrimination against its African American employees, failing to promote based on race according to court records.

Freeman’s case was filed in December 2019 and is currently facing a motion of dismissal by a California Eastern District Court according to records.

None of the employees could be reached for comment.

Justice2Jobs Coalition opposed Director Dye’s appointment in a letter signed by a dozen community leaders that called on the County to build a new culture that searches out and adheres to best practices, one that holds itself accountable to the county’s written guiding principles and declarations.

Dye was appointed director of DHA earlier this month.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento, CA

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