White male claims he was passed over for promotion at USDA

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 13, 2006, 4:40pm

Gary Vaughn, an employee with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, filed suit in federal court alleging he was passed over for a promotion because he's white.

Vaughn is employed by the USDA at the Golconda Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Pope County.

According to Vaughn's suit filed Feb. 13 in U.S. District Court for the Southern Illinois District, a vacancy was posted for a position that would have given him more responsibility and wages in early 2004.

Vaughn alleges that the senior member of management involved in the filling of the position was black, as was his boss. On July 7, 2004, a black person was appointed to the position even though he allegedly was not the best qualified nor had the highest score.

He claims the USDA's method for rating employees' job performance and for eligibility for promotion is based on the extent to which an applicant's experience and education show possession of the qualifications, knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies required.

Vaughn claims he had the most job experience listed in the vacancy announcement and his performance met the USDA's legitimate expectations. But, he did not receive the highest interview score. Another white, male co-worker received the highest interview score.

Vaughn claims the person who received the promotion only became eligible after the job was reposted at lower level.

"USDA's action in promotion of the African-American employee and failing to promote Vaughn constitutes racial discrimination against Vaughn in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," the complaint states.

Vaughn claims he has been adversely affected in that he has lost wages which continue to accrue, and other benefits associated with the promotion he did not receive.

He also claims his ability to achieve further promotion has been and will be hindered by him not being promoted.

"Vaughn's co-workers made light of his situation and Vaughn has been severely harmed and damaged in that he has been forced to suffer degradation, humiliation and embarrassment by the defendant's racial discrimination," the complaint states.

Vaughn is seeking a permanent injunction enjoining the USDA from engaging in any conduct that discriminates on the basis of race and an order requiring the USDA to institute and carry out policies and practices which will provide equal opportunities for all individuals regardless of race and which will eradicate the effects of their past discrimination.

He also is seeking an order requiring the USDA to pay him compensatory damages for pecuniary losses and non-pecuniary losses for lost income, benefits, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and emotional pain in an amount to be proven at trial.

Vaughn is represented by Jay Schaefer of Marion.

The case has been assigned to District Judge J. Phillip Gilbert.


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