A New Jersey probation officer has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against administration and staff of the N.J. Judiciary in Trenton, alleging she has repeatedly been treated unfairly by a “culture of white superiority” in the state court system.
Lyreshia Bonds, 40, of North Brunswick, claims in court papers her supervisors inundated her with work and presented her and other African-American employees with unrealistic caseloads and unreasonable work expectations. Bonds says in the complaint, filed late last year in U.S. District Court, that she has reported numerous incidents of discrimination, differential treatment and harassment since she was hired by the state judiciary in 2012. She claims state court officials repeatedly ignored her complaints and have retaliated against her by giving her more work.
The officials condoned "racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation to continue for years, which resulted in a hostile work environment,” the suit states.
Chief among the complaints are “overflowing caseload, expectations of completing a report a day (and) covering lower level employees’ responsibilities,” states the suit.
“Simply put, racial discrimination is deeply embedded in the N.J. Judiciary,” states the lawsuit, adding that the alleged discrimination toward new African-American employees is rampant, “which strongly demonstrates there is a culture of white superiority.” The lawsuit states Bonds and another black employee were walking in employee-only hallway when a “non-African-American supervisor came around the corner in a rushing manner and stated, ‘I thought you were going to rob me.’”
In another incident, Bonds claims an employee said to another employee who was watching Netflix: “Why are you watching a black person’s movie? That’s disgusting.”
The lawsuit was filed against several state judiciary administration staffers, the human resources manager, criminal division managers and others and alleges violations of the federal civil rights act and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Lee Moore, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said in an email state officials have no comment on the matter.
But in an answer filed Dec. 13, 2019, state Deputy Attorney General Timothy P. O’Brien denied most of the allegations contained in the complaint and alleged that Bonds had “failed to exhaust state and/or administrative remedies.” The answer states “the complaint is frivolous, a sham, and states no substantial issue.”
On Jan. 3, the state moved to dismiss Bonds’ lawsuit, stating she brought the lawsuit without having filed a tort claim prior to filing the complaint. The motion has not yet been heard in court.