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Former City Employee Awarded Nearly $100K In Discrimination Suit Against San Diego, Claims Hispanic Supervisor Showed Bias Against Black Workers

Demetris Wimberley, a former San Diego Streets Division laborer, has been awarded a settlement of roughly $100,000 after filing a lawsuit against the city claiming he faced discrimination because he is Black and was retaliated against when he spoke up against unsafe work conditions. 

San Diego street laborers. Screengrab

The City Council in his case unanimously approved a settlement for $97,500 back in August during a private session, the Union-Tribune reported. The meeting was closed to the public due to legal matters brought up in discussion. However, the settlement is coming “without an admission of liability” about Wimberley’s claims.

Those claims included the department using a minor vehicle crash in January 2018 as reason to terminate him in retaliation for bringing about complaints.

The former employee’s accusations were primarily based on discrimination he says he faced and the mistreatment he was met with following an on-the-job injury.

Wimberley’s lawsuit alleged a bias for Latino workers in the workplace and that the Hispanic supervisor rarely spoke English to the employees. In addition, Black workers were forced to work in dangerous conditions when staff availability was low, whereas their Latino co-workers were not. 

Wimberley also claimed he was assigned to less desirable shifts and was not given many opportunities for overtime, nor was he given tasks that would likely lead to a promotion. The man says the series of incidents took place almost immediately after he was brought on the team in November 2016.

Roughly six months into the job, Wimberley suffered a fractured foot. The suit states that he was forced to return to work just a few days later despite still walking around with the assistance of crutches. 

Complaints were made but reportedly ignored. Then, when Wimberley reported the situation surrounding his injury to the city’s fraud and abuse hotline, higher-ups allegedly began retaliating against him, starting by extending his probation past the original one-year expiration. 

He was subsequently fired after the minor crash, but documents claim his employer prevaricated about the cause. “The city lied about the existence of evidence and altered documents to hide the true reason for Mr. Wimberley’s termination,” it stated. 

Wimberley was fired in January 2018 after working with the city for just a little over a year. He requested a transfer to another city department in the fall of 2017 prior to his termination, but he was denied. 

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