In the race for governor, J.B. Pritzker’s campaign is being sued by 10 staff members for racial discrimination and harassment.
They claim they were hired to fill a race quota and to do specific race-related duties. They also say white staff members were treated better.
Pritzker denied the allegations at a campaign event in Joliet.
“I know that the African-American community knows who I am, knows that I will fight for them when I’m governor,” he said.
In the federal lawsuit, eight current and two former employees complained that “…the JB Pritzker for Governor campaign has been a cesspool of racial discrimination and harassment.” They allege the vast majority of black and Hispanic employees were “…herded into race-specific positions…offered no meaningful chance for advancement, and receive less favorable treatment than their white counterparts.”
“I think the policies and practices that were put forth during the campaign have racial undertones and that my clients have been discriminated upon based on those policies,” said attorney Shay Allen.
Yet in a tweet posted by one of the workers in the lawsuit, Celia Colon wrote, “Had an amazing event tonight,” seeming to refer to an event the same day the lawsuit was filed.
When asked why eight of the plaintiffs are still working for their campaign, Allen said “even though the situation is horrible, they’re powering through it” so they can finish what they started.
Pritzker and his running mate Juliana Stratton denied the allegations, and Stratton referred to a letter sent by the plaintiff’s attorney in which the plaintiffs demanded a $7.5 million settlement in a 24-hour window, suggesting the whole thing is akin to an extortion attempt.
“When people feel like they have been harassed or discriminated against, they have the right to come forward and have their voices heard. In this case, we had a letter delivered to us asking for $7.5 million dollars in 24 hours or they threatened legal action and to go to press. That’s not a good faith effort,” Stratton said in a statement.
The Pritzker campaign released a copy of what they said was a demand letter sent by the attorney representing the campaign workers. The letter demanded compensation of $7.5 million and personalized letters of recommendation.