A longtime Metro light-rail operator was awarded $900,252 in a recent federal-jury ruling [“King County ordered to pay $900K after retaliating against employee who claimed discrimination,” July 7, Local News]. Claude Brown suffered retaliation for filing a racial discrimination complaint over hiring and promotional issues.

Brown was denied justice for years while being subjected to the stress of retaliation by vindictive leaders. Now, taxpayers are responsible for a huge bill for an injustice that should have been corrected without an expensive legal process.

To combat racism, King County launched a social-justice and equity campaign in 2016. The document is filled with words such as inclusiveness, opportunity and fairness. But unless elected leaders, starting with County Executive Dow Constantine, are held accountable for walking their talk, these powerful words are meaningless. Leaders who tolerate discrimination or bigotry should not hold positions of power.

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) launched a campaign in the spring of 2020 called “Root Out Racism at King County and Beyond!” We have documented countless stories similar to Brown’s.

To progress, county officials need to listen when complaints are filed, and root out the bad leadership which allows racism to fester and grow.

Donald Larson, Seattle