For Immediate Release: May 18, 2023
Contact: Jennifer Reisch, Reisch Law
T: (510) 686-3082
MARIN SHERIFF’S OFFICE SUED FOR RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Lawsuit alleging racial bias marks the fourth discrimination case against Marin County law enforcement agencies in the last six months.
San Rafael, CA (May 18, 2023) – David Lundie, a longtime deputy at the Marin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), filed a race discrimination lawsuit against the County, alleging that he has been harassed, denied promotions, and subjected to other unfair treatment because he is Black. The lawsuit was filed yesterday in Marin Superior Court by employment civil rights attorneys from Reisch Law and Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C.
“This lawsuit should serve as a wake-up call,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Jennifer Reisch of Reisch Law, who grew up in Marin County. “Racial discrimination is rampant throughout Marin institutions and culture, and the Sheriff’s Office is no exception. Make no mistake about it: this is not an isolated incident, and the MCSO needs to urgently revamp its practices and procedures to put an end to the racial bias that permeates its culture.”
In his lawsuit, Lundie, who has been a deputy sheriff for nearly 25 years, alleges that, despite his qualifications and years of exceptional service to the MCSO and the community, he has been denied or passed over for promotion in favor of non-Black candidates seven times over the course of his career in Marin—even when there were multiple openings. According to Lundie, senior leadership held him to different standards of conduct than white deputies; gave him biased performance reviews; failed to give him due credit for exceptional performance; excessively scrutinized and micromanaged him; criticized his conduct on the job; and subjected him to racist tokenization and microaggressions, among other allegations.
Lundie further alleges that, even after the relentless discrimination and hostile environment at work forced him onto medical leave in late 2022, MCSO did not change course, but instead doubled down on discrimination: rather than allowing Deputy Lundie to take the time off he desperately needed, supervisors interfered with the exercise of his right to take protected medical leave and then retaliated against him upon his return to work for taking leave.
The complaint further alleges that, after Deputy Lundie began to raise concerns about racial bias, unfair treatment, and the lack of racial diversity in the Department, he became the target of ongoing intimidation and retaliation.
“After years of suffering in silence and trying to avoid ‘making waves’ by calling attention to the egregiously unfair way in which he has been treated because of his race, our client is bringing this action as a last resort,” said the plaintiff’s attorney Monali Sheth of Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. “Calling out racism in the workplace takes tremendous courage, and we are hopeful that this lawsuit will bring about the justice our client, and other County employees, deserve.”
According to the lawsuit and publicly available data, from 2013 through 2020, MCSO hired only one Black person—to a non-management civilian position—to a team of more than 300. Prior to August 2022, Deputy Lundie was the sole Black deputy sheriff in the entire Field Services Bureau and one of only three Black deputies employed by the Sheriff’s Office. No Black person has served at a rank of Sergeant or above since 2016, when the sole Black Lieutenant in the entire department retired. Every member of MCSO’s senior leadership/command staff, from Sheriff down to Captain, is white.
Reisch Law uses creative legal advocacy to defend the rights of workers and advance economic, gender, and racial justice. Jennifer Reisch represents working people seeking to challenge discrimination, sexual harassment, wage theft, pay inequity and other unfair practices in the workplace.
Bryan Schwartz Law, P.C. is dedicated to continuing the struggle for civil rights and equality of employment opportunity and helping Americans from every background to achieve their highest career potential. Monali Sheth, Of Counsel to the firm, represents employees in matters of employment law, including discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, and whistleblower actions.
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