Racial Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment – SFSD Clerks Awarded Over $1 Million in Lawsuit

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Two Black employees of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department have sued the city, alleging racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation while on the job. Danielle Dillard and Kim Lee work as clerks processing warrants for criminal suspects. They claim that they have been subjected to a workplace culture of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

It Broke Me Down

The conditions at work worsened for Dillard and Lee after they complained about alleged discriminatory acts by co-workers and superiors that had been happening for several years. Among several other claims, Dillard says a supervisor referred to her as a “monkey” in 2016 after she introduced herself as a clerk and shop steward with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021 union.

Ms. Dillard would spend her lunch and rest times crying due to the hostile atmosphere she found herself in, not being able to speak at all to colleagues.

Dillard claims she received racial discrimination complaints from other Sheriff’s Department employees as a union shop steward and brought them to Captain James Quanico, who oversees Dillard’s unit. A month later, Dillard claims she was served with a cease-and-desist order stating she could not communicate with employees in her division. Lee’s discrimination allegations also began in 2016.

On November 15, 2023, a jury awarded Danielle Dillard $523,400 and Kim Lee $616,000 for their racial discrimination lawsuit against the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department and the City Attorney’s Office released a joint statement claiming they oppose harassment and discriminatory behavior.

“As one of the most diverse sheriff’s departments in the nation that values equity and inclusion, any form of harassment or discriminatory behavior is antithetical to our values. We are surprised and disappointed by the outcome of this case and will be working with the City Attorney’s Office to evaluate any next steps.”