A black staffer for the office of Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois) has claimed in a lawsuit that she faced a hostile and possibly racist work environment.
Patrice Campbell, a constituent services representative in the Lincolnshire district office for Schneider, filed the suit this week and said she was discriminated-against because she is black.
Campbell recalled an alleged March incident in which her supervisor, Karyn Davidman, had made an “obvious reference to lynching.”
According to Campbell, Davidman had been discussing staffers using lanyards to keep their face masks in place.
“You are going to have to get a rope and put it around your neck,” she then allegedly told Campbell, the only black staffer in the office.
“Fully aware that she was targeting Plaintiff and making light of a horrific reality, Davidman even mentioned that her husband had warned her that her statement to Plaintiff was totally inappropriate,” the lawsuit goes on to claim.
Davidman would reportedly go on to urge Campbell to join a staff video conference just so she could recall the story and laugh hysterically.
“You should have seen your face when I told that story!” she told Campbell after that encounter, the lawsuit said.
Campbell also claims she was assigned any requests to the office from African Americans, making her feel like the “black people representative.”
On top of the office’s reluctance to deal with minority constituent requests, Campbell also alleged that Davidman would favor white employees and make offhanded comments that were “at best, racially insensitive.”
Davidman was hit with a week of paid administrative leave following the interactions with Campbell. She was also told she would no longer supervise Campbell, though Campbell says she continued working for Davidman, but orders were given through a third party.
She was so frustrated with the office’s response to her complaints, Campbell eventually took the month of April off and worked a reduced schedule in May and June.
Matt Fried, a spokesman for Rep. Schneider, said in a public statement that Campbell’s lawsuit does not give “complete or accurate representation of the issues or her treatment by any office personally” and he is confident the Democrat congressman will be “exonerated.”
The lawsuit was filed with the Office of Congressional Workplace rights, an office that investigates claims of discrimination within Congress.
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