The Missouri Department of Corrections was recently hit with a lawsuit over racial discrimination allegations.
A lawsuit was recently filed against the Missouri Department of Corrections by a former probation and parole assistant over allegations of racial and national origin discrimination. Additionally, the suit also alleges the former employee was retaliated against when he voiced concerns about the treatment he was receiving.
The suit itself was filed by Stephen Ben-Naimah of Jefferson City in Cole County Circuit Court. According to the suit, Ben-Naimah began working for the Department of Corrections back in April 2018. During that time, his supervisor allegedly “told him to ‘put on your African learning brain’” on several occasions. Ben-Naimah is from Liberia, a West African nation. Additionally, he alleges one of his coworkers “regularly called him a mass murderer, among other things.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, another coworker was “instructed by Ben-Naimah’s supervisor to sabotage his application for U.S. citizenship by looking for and exploiting any disqualifying information about him, including whether he had a criminal record,” according to the lawsuit. To top it all off, Ben-Naimah argued that whenever he was later for work, “he was disciplined for it, while white workers who were late were not disciplined.”
On more than one occasion, he reported the alleged statements and the discriminatory conduct of his coworkers and supervisor to the Department of Corrections, but each time, his reports were ignored and “no corrective action was taken.”
Then, in March 2019, he applied for an open position, “but two Department of Corrections employees discarded his application and never forwarded it for processing.” His suit further argued that he was “harassed so often for being Black and from Liberia that he tried to transfer to St. Louis, but one of the employees who allegedly discarded his application ensured that he was not transferred.”
Eventually, he was terminated from his position in October 2019 for “violating unspecified department policies,” according to the suit. However, Ben-Naimah claimed he was “singled out because of his race, national origin and for reporting the alleged mistreatment.” It’s also important to note, that before his termination, Ben-Naimah filed a discrimination charge against the department with the Missour Commission on Human Rights in June 2018. Earlier this year, on May 21, he was issued a written notice of his right to sue, even though the commission wasn’t done with its investigation.
At the moment, Ben-Naimah is seeking a jury trial and hopes the court will award him actual and punitive damages in addition to compensation for court and attorney fees.