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Latino Daily News

Tuesday August 2, 2011

Justice Dept Settles Hispanic Discrimination Lawsuit Against Arizona Schools

Justice Dept Settles Hispanic Discrimination Lawsuit Against Arizona Schools

Photo: Arizona Unified School District

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The Department of Justice announced yesterday that it has entered into a consent decree with the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) that, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, will resolve the department’s complaint alleging sex and/or national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.  The complaint alleges that the TUSD discriminated against Donna Guzman, Marcia Vela, Veronica Leon, Jimmy Miranda and Eddie Montano, female and/or Hispanic custodial employees of its Rincon/University High School (RHS), by subjecting them to harassment and a hostile work environment based on sex and/or national origin.

The complaint, which was filed along with the proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges that the TUSD violated Title VII by failing to take effective action that would stop one of its employees – a white, male custodian – from subjecting his co-workers to a series of harassing and abusive comments based on their sex and/or national origin, and subjecting Guzman and Vela to physical intimidation based on their sex and/or national origin, after the female and/or Hispanic co-workers had complained about his behavior to RHS and TUSD supervisory personnel numerous times. 

Under the terms of the consent decree, TUSD must pay a total of $45,000 to Guzman, Vela, Leon, Miranda and Montano in compensatory damages.  The consent decree also provides for injunctive relief requiring the TUSD to enforce its policies and procedures that prohibit sex and national origin discrimination and to train its officers and other employees on the prevention of sex and national origin discrimination. 

“The Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement of all federal civil rights laws under its jurisdiction, including Title VII’s prohibition against harassment in the workplace,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.  “This lawsuit should send a clear message that the Department will take necessary action to eliminate and remedy the effects of unlawful harassment in our public sector workplaces.”