State settles workplace discrimination lawsuit

CARSON CITY — The state agreed Tuesday to pay $125,000 to an Israel-born man who contended he was discriminated against by fellow employees at the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko.

Without comment, the board made the payment to Baruch Zohar, who alleged he was ridiculed by fellow employees and youth for his Israeli accent. Zohar added he was subjected to a hostile work environment.

Gov. Jim Gibbons, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller serve on the board.

While the facts in the case are in dispute, state Budget Director Andrew Clinger recommended the settlement because of the chance a jury might find in favor of Zohar and order the state to pay even more.

In a complaint, Zohar alleged that his superiors at the Youth Training Center condoned and participated in the harassment against him based on his national origin.

He said he reported the ridicule and his supervisors themselves would mimic his accent and boast they could do “the best Zohar imitation,” according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

A deputy attorney general refused to say whether employees who allegedly made fun of Zohar were disciplined or fired.

The Board of Examiners several times a year makes payments to settle lawsuits filed against the state.

In a couple of cases involving traffic deaths, the settlements have been more than $2 million.

But in other cases, the board has made settlements of as much as $500,000 in sexual harassment and sexual discrimination complaints, including some involving the Nevada Highway Patrol.

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