Clark County ordered to pay $600,000 over racist slurs, discrimination in the workplace

By Ryan Haas (OPB)
June 21, 2023 3:50 p.m. Updated: June 21, 2023 4:41 p.m.
Clark County Public Works property pictured outside on May, 11, 2023. On Tuesday, a federal jury found the department created a hostile workplace against Latino employees.

Clark County Public Works property pictured outside on May, 11, 2023. On Tuesday, a federal jury found the department created a hostile workplace against Latino employees.

Troy Brynelson / OPB

A federal jury found Tuesday that Clark County owes $600,000 to three Latino public works employees following years of discrimination at county offices.

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Clark County officials were accused of turning a blind eye to racist remarks and holding double standards in the workplace. The employees said they faced derogatory comments on the job “on an almost weekly basis.”

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In their lawsuit, brought in 2021, Ray Alanis, Isaiah Hutson and Elias Peña said they complained about the behavior to the county human resources department, but the county found no violations when it investigated.

The federal jury found the county created a hostile and biased workplace under Washington state’s anti-discrimination laws. Jurors awarded each man $200,000 but did not find the county violated federal civil rights laws.

Alanis, Hutson and Peña were represented in the case by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a national Latino civil rights organization based in Los Angeles.

“After years of experiencing a hostile work environment at Clark County, our clients have finally been vindicated. The jury heard their stories and believed them,” wrote Luis Lozada, a staff attorney with MALDEF.

In a written statement Tuesday, Clark County spokesperson Joni McAnally thanked the jury for reviewing the case.

“The county is committed to provide a work environment free from unlawful discrimination and harassment for its employees, the public it serves and those with whom the county conducts business,” McAnally wrote.

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