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Minority State Workers Claim They Were Scapegoated by White Managers in Bill Fixing Scheme

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Some jobs have more perks than others and six minority female workers at seattle utilitiesthe Seattle Public Utilities company say prior to an investigation, performing transactions on your own account, or that of family and friends, was commonplace. They claim even though the practice was widespread, once an investigation ensued, only minority workers were punished, while white employees saw no action taken against them.

In a discrimination lawsuit, the African-American plaintiffs, along with one Filipino, claim they were discriminated against by the Seattle Public Utilities company.

After a 2011 audit discovered bill fixing, the plaintiffs claim that their white managers suspended, fired, or forced them into retirement. They claim managers did not go after all employees who’d been involved in bill fixing,  just employees of color.
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“The focus of disciplinary action, or the threat of disciplinary action, was on persons of color, not on Caucasian employees engaging in the same acts,” the lawsuit reads.

“SPU targeted persons of color, making them scapegoats for the misdeeds of SPU managers who had falsely claimed to the state auditor and to the City Council for more than a decade that policies and procedures were in place to ensure that SPU employees did not engage in self-dealing.”
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In an interview with the Seattle Times, the plaintiffs’ attorney claims that more than 70 employees had been involved in bill fixing. The attorney says of all the files he has obtained, only one involved a Caucasian employee and that person was not disciplined.

Over 300 employees had access to the utilities billing system.
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In a statement, SPU “strongly denies the allegations of discrimination in the complaint, and reiterates the utility’s commitment to be sound financial stewards of the public’s money.”