Gage County District Court Trial Begins, in Lawsuit Alleging Racial Harassment, Discrimination

BEATRICE – A civil trial began Tuesday in Gage County District Court, in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of Sanitary Garbage Company, Inc., alleging racial harassment and discrimination.

An eight-woman, four-man jury is hearing the lawsuit filed by Jonathan Curry, who is bi-racial.   Curry was the lone witness called on the first day of the trial, which is expected to last three days.

Curry has alleged he was subjected to harassment and discrimination because he is half African American, half white.

Hired as a garbage thrower, Curry says other employees used the N-word and made other comments, which he asked them to stop making.  He contends management did nothing to stop the conduct.

Part of Tuesday’s testimony came during cross-examination of Curry, by the attorney for Sanitary Garbage Company, Patrick O’Brien.

:56                  “makes no sense to me”

Curry acknowledged that the company handbook has equal opportunity, non-discrimination and non-harassment policies.  O’Brien questioned Curry about his work record, including how often he was late to work, or absent.   He questioned him specifically about a warning Curry received from management, January 31st, of 2014, a few weeks before he was terminated from employment.

:20                  “then three months?…yes”

Curry’s lawsuit states he was terminated, February 19th, 2014…because there was not enough work available.  He contends a replacement worker started working the next day.   Testimony concluded Tuesday with Curry still on the witness stand.  His attorney, Abby Osborn planned to continue questioning her client when the proceedings resume, at 8:45 a.m., Wednesday.

Curry previously filed a charge of discrimination with both the U.S. and Nebraska Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions.   He received an administrative dismissal from the NEOC, January 16th, of 2015.  The lawsuit was filed in March of 2015.

Curry is seeking damages for lost wages and benefits, for emotional distress and humiliation, among other things.  The trial is being held before District Judge Rick Schreiner.

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