Any Canadian working in the US would likely be put out if their supervisor chose to begin team meetings with the pointed phrase: “Here in America we…”.
If that discrimination based on country of origin extended over several years to the deliberate blocking of promotions, the delaying of crucial visa applications, and repeated snide remarks, that Canadian might be wise to consider a lawsuit.
That was the exact situation allegedly faced by Laurie Samuel between 2006 to 2013, when she worked at Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
In a lawsuit filed by Samuel, she is seeking back pay, compensation for punitive damages and legal costs for discrimination based on her Canadian origins.
The National Post reports that the MPD is yet to file a statement of defence, according to a statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General.
Samuel joined the MPD in 2006 after finishing a PhD in criminology, but allegedly faced discrimination from her supervisor Diane Hains Walton after being given greater responsibilities in the HR division in 2008.
Beginning with snide remarks about her origins, as well as saying she ‘talked white’, unlike an ‘African-American’, Hains Walton went on to disparage Samuel over several years, saying she’d like to hire an American in her place.
The lawsuit alleges that Hains Walton went so far as to block her attempts to apply for a promotion within the department, including one instance where Samuel’s name was deliberately removed from a certification list.
Hains Walton is also accused of deliberately seeking to delay Samuel’s application for permanent residency in the US – which was being sponsored by the MPD - by withholding documents and being slow to fill out forms.
The National Post
reports that Samuel was placed on administrative leave in August 2013, and ‘constructively dismissed’ two months later, which the lawsuit blames on Hains Walton’s discriminatory treatment.
Samuel has placed her confidence in the non-discriminatory nature of other US citizens, by requesting the case be resolved at a trial by jury.