Black Staffer for Rep. Brad Schneider Files Lawsuit Against Employer for ‘Hostile Work Environment’ and Racial Discrimination

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., walks up the House steps on April 4, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Black staffer for Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) has sued her employer, saying her supervisor made a comment about lynching to her and that reporting the problem resulted in race-based retaliation against her.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Patrice Campbell, who serves as a constituent services representative, said her supervisor Karyn Davidman “created an intolerable hostile work environment” against Campbell because of her race.

According to Campbell’s lawsuit, at the beginning of March, Davidman was telling a story about constituents using lanyards to keep face masks around their necks and followed it by telling Campbell, “You are going to have to get a rope and put it around your neck.” Campbell, who is the only Black staffer in Schneider’s office, said her comments were an inappropriate reference to lynching, and Davidman responded that the “rope” was in fact a “lanyard” for masks.

On a staff video call the next day, Davidman instructed Campbell to turn her camera on while she “laughed hysterically” and recounted the story, according to the lawsuit. Campbell said Davidman then called her after the video conference to continue mocking her, saying “You should have seen your face when I told that story!”

Schneider spokesperson Matt Fried said in a statement Campbell’s suit “does not provide a complete or accurate representation of the issues or her treatment by any office personnel.” He added that the office already took “prompt and appropriate corrective action to address Ms. Campbell’s initial complaint.”

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SOURCE: Politico, Nicholas Wu and Katherine Tully-McManus

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