EXCLUSIVE: WaPo Sued Yet Again For Job Bias

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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The Washington Post, already accused in a federal lawsuit of purging older black employees and not disciplining its white vice-president who racially harassed subordinates, was just socked with another employment discrimination claim.

Allen Cummings, a maintenance worker at the paper’s Springfield, Va., printing plant alleges that WaPo management deliberately ignored dozens of his complaints about a supervisor who bombarded him with sexually explicit texts, including one picture of her spread eagle and naked.

What is up with the liberal broadsheet?

Why is it continually accused of institutional racism and sexism? Is the house that the Grahams built having trouble adjusting to the growing numbers of “persons of color” and women in the 21st century workforce? How can WaPo executives not value diversity?

Cummings sued WaPo in District of Columbia Superior Court last month for gender discrimination and illegal retaliation. It has not been reported anywhere else.

The paper on November 10 asked Judge Michael O’Keefe to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction and “for [the plaintiff’s] failure to state a claim,” which is legalese for not establishing any violation of the law even if the facts alleged are true.

Jones Day partner Jackie Holmes is handling this lawsuit plus the ongoing federal case. The Washington Post, ever quick to accuse everybody from Silicon Valley to “Saturday Night Live” of bias, sure does keep Holmes busy with its own alleged discrimination problems!

And let’s not forget insensitivity. The central argument in this case is that WaPo management tried to cover up blatant workplace sexual harassment, which is considered a form of gender discrimination.

Cummings alleges that WaPo management ignored his repeated complaints about a female supervisor, Mernesia Gerst, who for nearly one entire year bombarded him with sexually explicit texts and photos, including one of her beaver.

“I got some big lips,” she allegedly texted after sending the naked picture, just in case the message was lost him.

To use exquisite New York Times parlance, Gerst also told Cummings that they were both virile African Americans and that he should passionately make love to her. Uh, actually, her actual alleged words to him were, “hot niggas” and “Fuck that bullshit. We need to hook up so you can fuck that shit out of me.” [Correct as quoted.]

Gerst was made aware that her entreaties were “unwanted and offensive,” according to the lawsuit. But she persisted and even “questioned [Cummings’] manhood.”

The abuse supposedly occurred continually between December 2014 and October 2015. Cumming says he reported between 30 and 40 incidents to the WaPo workplace harassment hot line but they were ignored.

Von Valentine, a supervisor at the Springfield plant, also did nothing in response to Cummings’ complaints, other than retaliating by reducing his work shifts from five per week to four and trying to fire him, the lawsuit says.

Valentine also gave Cummings additional duties on one of his remaining shifts. The Upper Marlboro, Maryland resident even asserts that another worker who assaulted him on the job was not reprimanded.

In addition to sexual harassment and retaliation, Cummings sued WaPo for intentional infliction of emotional distress, saying that he is now receiving medical treatment for clinical depression because of all the abuse.

Gerst and Valentine could not be reached for comment.

WaPo communications director Kristine Corratti, herself accused in the earlier race discrimination lawsuit of forcing out an older black employee, did not reply to requests for comment. Holmes, a high-powered corporate attorney, also pulled a deaf mute routine.

If Judge O’Keefe does not dismiss the case both sides are to meet with him on Jan. 22 for a scheduling conference.