A Denton County employee who filed a federal lawsuit accusing the human resources director and other employees of racial discrimination and harassment has been placed on administrative leave pending termination, county officials said.
Cynthia R. Clemetson, 49, a county employee for nearly three years who was promoted in 2011 to the position of human resources generalist, was placed on leave Tuesday.
Clemetson, who is African-American, filed a 38-page lawsuit alleging race discrimination, hostile work environment, mental abuse, retaliation, breach of contract and discrimination and harassment in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act. The suit was filed March 26 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.
The suit names several county employees and officials, but the majority of the allegations are lodged against Human Resources director Amy Phillips, who is alleged to have made numerous disparaging remarks about African-Americans, and County Tax Assessor-Collector Michelle French, who is accused of contributing to a hostile work environment and mental abuse.
Prior to filing suit, Clemetson filed a couple of claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received clearance from the EEOC to proceed with the lawsuit. The suit alleges that retaliation against Clemetson increased after she contacted the EEOC.
The suit accuses Phillips of making “comments about African-American, dark-skin-toned individuals that were derogatory in nature,” including referring to them as “lazy” and “incompetent.”
After being placed on administrative leave, Clemetson has a few days to respond to her supervisor, Phillips, about it.
The suit states that Clemetson has never received a failed performance rating.
The lawsuit is the second federal racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the county in recent years.
Nadiya Williams-Boldware, an employee with the Denton County District Attorney’s Office, sued in 2009, accusing other employees in the department of making racial remarks. Four prosecutors were fired, but the judgment was overturned on appeal.
County commissioners discussed the Clemetson lawsuit in closed session Tuesday and assigned the case to attorney Bob Davis with Matthews, Stein, Shiels, Pearce, Knott, Eden & Davis LLP in Dallas. County Judge Mary Horn said she had no comment on the pending litigation.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.