A Clark County employee claims he was subjected to discrimination as a black Muslim and then retaliated against for complaining about the hostile work environment, leading him to be passed over for promotions and unduly disciplined.
Ebrahim Juma, an assistant planning manager for the county’s Water Quality Planning Program, filed a lawsuit in December against the county and its Water Reclamation District, which oversees his duties. The case was transferred to federal court last month, records show.
In the lawsuit, Juma claimed that issues went beyond his own personal experience: The “racial discrimination was rampant at the district,” the suit alleges, including a lack of diversity among the executive team and racial biases in promotions.
The county declined to speak about the suit, citing its routine practice of not commenting on pending litigation and personnel issues. But in court, the county and the reclamation district rejected Juma’s allegations.
Juma, who is of Kenyan origin, reported in 2011 that a deputy general manager used a racial epithet on multiple occasions to refer to black people, court records show.
But Juma decided not to pursue litigation in 2013 after being transferred out of that supervisor’s group, hoping the issues would dissolve, according to the lawsuit.
Over the next five years, however, Juma alleged he was not treated equally as his mostly white male co-workers, denied the adequate resources necessary to perform his job — including ensuring compliance with mandatory state regulations — and held out of important work-related meetings and conferences.
The ongoing discrimination led him to be passed over for pay raises, overlooked for promotions in favor of less-qualified candidates and owed more than $10,000 in unpaid overtime wages, the lawsuit contends.
Juma also alleged he was subjected to several frivolous personnel investigations, in which he was ultimately cleared, and negative employee reviews that set out to harm his reputation despite receiving acclaim from previous supervisors.
He joined the county in 2003 and has been in his present role since 2008, building and expanding the county’s water quality program, according to the lawsuit.