JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - An employee with the Department of Mental Health is suing the agency, claiming racial discrimination and retaliation.
Jerome Morgan is suing for a total of $75,000 plus damages and attorney's and court costs.
In the lawsuit, Morgan claims he and other black employees were given less favorable and more dangerous jobs at the Fulton State Hospital because of their race. He claims DMH and at least two coworkers violated the Missouri Human Rights Act.
The court documents say Morgan is employed with DMH as a security aide. It says he is black and is from Jamaica.
In September 2016, Morgan filed a charge of discrimination the with the Missouri Commission of Human Rights detailing the allegations of racial discrimination. In June 2017, the MCHR issued Morgan a Notice to Right to Sue.
The lawsuit states Morgan was "treated differently in the terms and conditions of his employment due to his race and national origin."
According to the documents, on August 9, 2016, Morgan was a part of a group of black employees that DMH segregated from the main population. Morgan "and these black employees were given unfavorable assignments and placed in areas that present a higher risk for physical violence." It also says white employees were given the less physically risky assignments.
The lawsuit also claims Morgan was the victim of racist, discriminatory and harassing comments from coworkers that created a hostile work environment. At least one the coworkers named in the court documents is accused of using a racial slur in front of Morgan.
Morgan claims to have reported the comments to DMH supervisors but no action was taken.
Morgan claims he was retaliated against with worse job assignments.
The lawsuit has three charges against DMH.
The first charge is discrimination based on race. Race is a protected class under the MHRA. Morgan claims he was treated "inequitably based on race." He also claims DMH "facilitated and ensured discriminatory treatment" of him.
The lawsuit claims DMH "did not provide training with respect to employment discrimination decisions that violate the MHRA." It also says DMH "owed a duty" to Morgan to supervise its employees and make sure they were providing "an environment in which discriminatory practices were not used."
The second charge in the lawsuit is discrimination based on national origin. National origin is a protected class under the MHRA. Morgan alleges his national origin was a "contributing factor in his coworkers' racist and derogatory comments."
The third charge is for unlawful discriminatory practice - retaliation. Morgan claims he was retaliated against and was "required to work in a more dangerous area of DMH" and "ignored by coworkers which at (the Fulton State Hospital) is a safety risk."
The lawsuit claims by DMH "failing to take prompt and effective remedial action, DMH in effect condoned, ratified and/or authorized the harassment and discrimination" of Morgan.
In the lawsuit, Morgan requests a trial by jury.