SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The California Republican Party has been sued by an employee alleging racial discrimination by a colleague and retaliation for reporting it.
Lawyers for Botisha McKnight, who is Black, filed her lawsuit against the party and two former employees this week in Sacramento County Superior Court. The suit alleges McKnight’s supervisor, Alice Jungwirth, repeatedly made discriminatory remarks about Black people, at several times acknowledging the her remarks were racist.
It further alleges Cynthia Bryant, the party’s former executive director and Jungwirth’s aunt, retaliated against McKnight by giving her more difficult work outside of her job description after McKnight filed a complaint. Managers at the California Republican Party failed to stop Jungwirth’s conduct, it alleges.
McKnight “has been subjected to an unending cycle of racially-charged and inhumane harassing, discriminatory, and retaliatory behavior at the hands of her supervisors,” the lawsuit alleges.
Jungwirth and Bryant both stopped working at the party last year, while McKnight still works there. Jungwirth could not be reached for comment and Bryant referred comment to the party spokesman.
“The CAGOP is an equal opportunity employer and has always employed and been welcoming to team members from all backgrounds. We immediately investigated these claims when they were first made back in late-2019 and took prompt remedial action at that time,” Hector Barajas, the party spokesman, said in an emailed statement.
Barajas pointed to a financial disclosure report showing Jungwirth’s final salary payment in January 2020 when asked what remedial actions the party took. He did not answer specifically when asked if she was fired due to McKnight’s complaint.
McKnight worked as a “cage assistant” for the party, a job that includes directing and sorting mail, processing checks and credit cards, making daily deposits and record keeping, according to the lawsuit.
Jungwirth subjected McKnight to “indescribable racism” including saying her first name sounded Black, asking if her hair was real, and using a racial stereotype in response to learning McKnight was older than 40, the lawsuit alleges. Jungwirth also allegedly told McKnight she heard that Black women have lots of children without fathers present and were on welfare.
McKnight alleged Bryant began assigning her difficult tasks that she was not trained for after she filed a formal complaint about the harassment with the party.
McKnight was the only African American employee of the party and she faced regular discrimination that her white colleagues were not subject to, the suit alleges. She suffered loss of earnings, emotional anguish, humiliation, and emotional and physical stress due to the environment, the suit alleges.
In early 2020, the California Democratic Party settled three lawsuits alleging its former chairman, Eric Bauman, engaged in a pattern of misconduct, discrimination and unwanted sexual advances. Bauman resigned in 2018.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.