Two Black women who worked as clerks for more than 19 years in the San Francisco Sherriff’s Department are suing the city. The women claim they suffered from racial discrimination, retaliation and harassment on the job, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The employees — Danielle Dillard and Kim Lee — filed the complaint on Monday (Aug. 3) at the San Francisco Superior Court. According to the suit, the Sheriff’s Department was “a workplace culture in which discrimination, harassment and retaliation have taken root and flourished.”
The women claim their work conditions worsened after they complained about the discriminatory acts that took place over the last few years. Dillard says she was called a “monkey” in 2016 by a supervisor after she introduced herself as a clerk. Months later, the same supervisor did not allow Dillard to select vacation days off after she returned to work from bereavement leave following the death of her mother.
When Dillard was about to return to work, she was told that she would have to take an 8% pay cut and told to spare the supervisor “all that money junk.” The women were given write-ups when they spoke up about the discrimination they faced at work. In March 2019, Dillard and Lee were given cease-and-desist orders that kept them from speaking to any of the other employees.
Lee says that she was told by her supervisor to “Come to work, do your job and just leave.” She said that she did just what the supervisor asked. “So, I just didn’t talk to nobody,” she said. “I’d sometimes cry at my desk because I want to talk to my friends. Those people were my friends and I couldn’t talk to my friends.”
Attorney Angela Alioto is representing both women. “I don’t know how they have made it this long, all those months without being able to speak and the frustration being so horrible that they literally would cry on their lunch break or they would cry, you know, when they go home all night because they’re under these strict, oppressive rules not to speak. It’s crazy!” Alioto said of her clients’ experiences at work.
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has not commented on the pending lawsuit.