The City of Seattle is being sued by a former white employee for years of alleged racial discrimination, according to a federal lawsuit filed against Mayor Bruce Harrell and the city last week.
Joshua Diemert, who was first hired in 2013 by the city’s Human Services Department (HSD), claims in the lawsuit that “he could not overcome the city’s overt discrimination against him through its Race and Social Justice Initiative,” despite being honored by the city for excellence, the Post Millennial reports.
According to the suit, Diemert claims he was pressured by the city to resign from a position when he needed to take a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The city told him that requesting FMLA would deny a “person of color” an opportunity for a promotion, and that he would be showing his “white privilege” if he didn’t resign.
Diemert alleges that upper-level managers told employees that senior roles and new positions should be filled with people of color, and that he was forced to attend training where he was forced to acknowledge that he is a “racist” simply because he was born “white,” court documents show.
When Diemert spoke out against anti-white racial messaging during a mandatory workshop with city employees, his colleagues labeled him a “white supremacist” and created a hostile environment in the workplace, according to the suit, the Post Millennial reports.
Employees are forced to participate in the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), which is a city-wide program that aims to eliminate “structural racism” through forcing white employees to acknowledge their “white privilege” and “power.”
According to the Pacific Legal Foundation lawsuit, the RSJI workshops explain that “white male individuals like Mr. Diemert 'are bolstered by racism,' that they 'internalize it,' and that 'individuals, institutions, and communities are often unconsciously and habitually rewarded for supporting white privilege and power.'”
Diemert is being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation free of charge, according to the Post M. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.