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Friday, July 31, 2015

Talking White-Canadian

"Ms. Haines harboured resentment which manifested in snide remarks about the plaintiff's heritage and her work."
"[From] the beginning of [Samuel's] employment, Ms. Haines maintained an ongoing pattern of harassing plaintiff because of her national origin."
Partial text, discrimination lawsuit, U.S. District Court
In 2012, Laurie Samuel was named as "Employee of the Year" by Washington D.C.'s Municipal Police Force. Just one year later, she was drummed out of the force.
©Washington Business Journal    In 2012, Laurie Samuel was named as "Employee of the Year" by Washington D.C.'s Municipal Police Force. Just one year later, she was drummed out of the force.

  • National origin: Canada. 
  • Gender: female. 
  • Distinguishing characteristics: high degree of intelligence. 
  • Ethnicity: black. 
  • Academics: graduate of Humber College and University of Toronto; master's degree in criminology from Michigan State University. Doctorate in philosophy from Howard University, Washington. 
  • Recognition: MPD [D.C.Metropolitan Police Department] "Employee of the Year"

None of this, evidently, enough to garner respect from a colleague, a workplace superior who resented the precise English enunciation of someone born in Canada. Particularly a young woman whose educational achievement and ambition appeared to her superior to represent a challenge to both her authority and her own position with the employer they both served.

Laurie Samuel, a human resources specialist with a background in criminology, worked for years while suffering the indignity of being a victim of "national origin discrimination" by her immediate superior working at the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. She suffered workplace obstruction at the hands of a spiteful superior, and she is intent on seeing that Diane Haines Walton is punished for having destroyed that workplace experience for Ms. Samuel.

Ms. Walton is also black, and took umbrage at Ms. Samuel's pattern of speech, remarking that "'she talked white"', untypical of an African American". The lawsuit describes the situation of Ms. Haines beginning statements with the pointed caution: "here in America, we...", when reviewing Human Resources files. The level of academic credits that Ms. Samuel brought with her to her position with the MPD was perceived by Ms. Haines as a personal threat to her own position as her workplace superior.

When Ms. Samuel made application for a new position with the HR department, one that came with increased responsibilities, had she succeeded she would have ranked only one position below Ms. Walton's place in the departmental hierarchy. The prospect of any such thing was unappealing to Ms. Walton who informed colleagues she "wanted to 'hire an American' for the position", states the lawsuit.
Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Files
Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Files   Diana Haines Walton

Accordingly, Ms. Walton "did not support the Police Chief's decision to support plaintiff. Ms. Haines questioned what was so special about her." She went so far as to replace Ms. Samuel's name on a MPD employment advancement list with the name of a friend. "Soon thereafter, Ms. Haines went to the Chief of Police and informed her that plaintiff [Samuel] was illegally in the United States."

This, after the MPD had applied on Ms. Samuel's behalf for a federal work permit extension to permit her to continue her employment, as a non-U.S. citizen. When U.S. Immigration granted the work permit extension in 2011 the approval notice, according to Ms. Samuel's claims, was delivered to Ms. Walton, who summarily proceeded to dispose of it.

Ms. Samuel had been hired as a human resources specialist in 2006. The quality of her work earned her praise and a ringing endorsement, as "Employee of the Year" in 2012. By 2013 the MPD "threatened her with termination for not having the proper work permit" and she was "constructively discharged" a month afterward.

She is now suing for back pay, damages and legal costs as well as "a declaratory judgement that MPD discriminated against her."

LinkedIn    The LinkedIn profile of Laurie Samuel

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