Jonathon Gwynn, who worked at the Baltimore County landfill from 2005 to 2014, has filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging his boss frequently used racial slurs at work.
According to the lawsuit, Gwynn’s boss, James Dawson routinely used racist language and made derogatory racial jokes and slurs about black people.
The suit also claims that Dawson told a white female employee Gwynn was dating “not to date [Gwynn] because [Gwynn] was African-American.”
Approximately four months after he filed a human resources complaint alleging the racist behavior in December 2013, Gwynn claims he was transferred to work at a county in Glen Arm in March 2014 “stripped of his supervisory role, deprived of overtime opportunity, and lost around ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in total overtime earnings during 2014 through 2015.”
The lawsuit says that Dawson was temporarily suspended, but brought back to the landfill in a supervisory role in 2014. He’s still employed there.
Gwynn’s lawyer, Gregg Mosson, said that he found at least one other who alleges Dawson “was a known racist against black people.”
In a 2017 affidavit, Ann Dixon, a white female equipment operator at the landfill from 2007 through 2013, wrote that Dawson frequently disparaged black employees and also demeaned women regularly.
“Mr. Dawson used the [the n-word] daily. He called Antoine Gwynn, a black co-worker, that word once to his face and I heard and saw it,” she wrote, adding he also used offensive language to refer to women.
The lawsuit says that Dawson and other employees worked with inmates from Maryland state prisons and Baltimore County jails, who also complained about racism at the landfill.
Gwynn alleges that the county covered up inmates’ previous complaints, which the lawsuit argues shows “a motive to cover up, and retaliatory motive against [Gwynn], because Defendant continued this pattern of cover-up in how it handled [Gwynn’s] complaint with silence, demotion, humiliation, and cover-up.”
The lawsuit accuses the county of encouraging a racially hostile work environment and wants the county to pay damages and fees as the court sees fit. If Mr. Gwynn prevails, this may give people who have been in similar situations but remained silent, a reason to speak up about their own problems.