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County worker’s racial slur didn’t infer he was a “lover”

“I have that vibe that I…empathize or have an affinity towards, um, black folks.”

Tyler Fowler, an appraiser for the County Assessor's Office who is African-American, says her supervisor Mark Sitzer made racially disparaging remarks on numerous occasions and county administrators failed to address it. She is suing Sitzer and the County of San Diego for racial discrimination.

According to the August 15 complaint filed in state court, discord between Fowler and Sitzer began in late 2016 after Fowler informed Sitzer that his department was not meeting certain deadlines. Fowler says Sitzer's anger over the comments surfaced in an April 20, 2017, altercation.

On that day Fowler was speaking to a coworker when Sitzer approached Fowler from behind. He touched her hair and stated that it felt just like "petting his dog."

Less than three weeks later, Sitzer again approached Fowler and patted her on the head. Referring to another employee's looks, also an African-American female, Sitzer then told Fowler that he was a "nigger lover."

Disturbed and upset, Fowler left the office. She went home and typed up a letter to an employee from the human resources department, detailing the interaction.

"...The situation being what it is, [Sitzer's] actions of late and now, his words seem to be escalating so that I don't feel comfortable coming to work and being allowed to do my job without having to consider what I will have to endure or put up with from him next," Fowler wrote. "I'm concerned about what other liberties he might feel it's ok to take with me. I never thought things would've gone this far. It's at the point where I can no longer excuse his behavior as harmless and ignorant, especially when he calls me a nigger to my face."

Upon learning of the potential complaint, Sitzer left a voice mail for Fowler. In the voice mail he admitted to saying the racial slur and that he was sorry. He said that he had an "affinity for black folk" and he did not mean anything by it.

The county placed Sitzer on leave while it investigated the issue. He, however, was allowed to return to work and eventually to the same office that he occupied. After refusing to leave her office and frustrated by the county's inaction, Fowler filed a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Department on August 9, 2017. The complaint was then followed with a lawsuit.

Fowler's attorney, Dan Gilleon, says the county should have acted by immediately terminating Sitzer. Instead, says Gilleon, it points to ratification of racism by the county.

"The County of San Diego has ratified the most obvious form of racism — the use of the ’n word’ by a high level chief to a black subordinate — by not terminating him," says Gilleon. "This would not happen at SDG&E, Qualcomm, Walmart. There, the person would be fired immediately. It seems only government entities— emboldened by the lack of leadership in this country — that are allowing this kind of overt racism, destroying the fabric of this country one racist act at a time."

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Tyler Fowler, an appraiser for the County Assessor's Office who is African-American, says her supervisor Mark Sitzer made racially disparaging remarks on numerous occasions and county administrators failed to address it. She is suing Sitzer and the County of San Diego for racial discrimination.

According to the August 15 complaint filed in state court, discord between Fowler and Sitzer began in late 2016 after Fowler informed Sitzer that his department was not meeting certain deadlines. Fowler says Sitzer's anger over the comments surfaced in an April 20, 2017, altercation.

On that day Fowler was speaking to a coworker when Sitzer approached Fowler from behind. He touched her hair and stated that it felt just like "petting his dog."

Less than three weeks later, Sitzer again approached Fowler and patted her on the head. Referring to another employee's looks, also an African-American female, Sitzer then told Fowler that he was a "nigger lover."

Disturbed and upset, Fowler left the office. She went home and typed up a letter to an employee from the human resources department, detailing the interaction.

"...The situation being what it is, [Sitzer's] actions of late and now, his words seem to be escalating so that I don't feel comfortable coming to work and being allowed to do my job without having to consider what I will have to endure or put up with from him next," Fowler wrote. "I'm concerned about what other liberties he might feel it's ok to take with me. I never thought things would've gone this far. It's at the point where I can no longer excuse his behavior as harmless and ignorant, especially when he calls me a nigger to my face."

Upon learning of the potential complaint, Sitzer left a voice mail for Fowler. In the voice mail he admitted to saying the racial slur and that he was sorry. He said that he had an "affinity for black folk" and he did not mean anything by it.

The county placed Sitzer on leave while it investigated the issue. He, however, was allowed to return to work and eventually to the same office that he occupied. After refusing to leave her office and frustrated by the county's inaction, Fowler filed a complaint with the Fair Employment and Housing Department on August 9, 2017. The complaint was then followed with a lawsuit.

Fowler's attorney, Dan Gilleon, says the county should have acted by immediately terminating Sitzer. Instead, says Gilleon, it points to ratification of racism by the county.

"The County of San Diego has ratified the most obvious form of racism — the use of the ’n word’ by a high level chief to a black subordinate — by not terminating him," says Gilleon. "This would not happen at SDG&E, Qualcomm, Walmart. There, the person would be fired immediately. It seems only government entities— emboldened by the lack of leadership in this country — that are allowing this kind of overt racism, destroying the fabric of this country one racist act at a time."

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4

Dorian: According to Transparent California there is no one with the last name of "Spitzer" working for the County of San Diego. However, there is a Mark S. Sitzer, Division Chief I, working in the Assessor's office. Is there a misidentification in the story in need of a correction? Do you guys need an editor?

In either case this case involves HIGH level managers where that kind of behavior cannot be tolerated at all. If the voice mail proof exists how can the County allow continued employment of this manager?

Aug. 19, 2017

JW: I need to edit myself is what should be happening. This was completely my fault. I had a million things going on so at least three good excuses for the mistake but it's still not acceptable. I will fix the story.

As for the voice mail, it does exist. I listened to it. And yes, it's cringeworthy. I can't believe he is still working there. Thanks for the comment. It is much appreciated. -dH

Aug. 20, 2017

Dorian...Can you publish an Article about the Termination of my Employment too?

My name is Farhad J. Bastani. I am former employee/engineer of the City of San Diego. I was a "Whistle Blower" in the City against the conducts of the City against "Public Record Act" and "Public Safety".

Please see the attached picture...in 2015 and during a litigation, I discovered an email communication between two managers/decision makers against my employment, James Nagelvoort (Director) and David Zoumaras(Deputy Director)...

among many other strong/evidences , I discovered in 2015 and 2016 that the Actual decision against my employment was NOT even termination and was "5 days suspension without pay"(although this one was also wrongful)....Since 2014 until present, I have been involved in multiple litigations against the City and although I presented high count of "Strong Evidences" in support of my claim, both Office of the City Attorney and San Diego Superior Court fraudulently did not let me to pursue the litigations and repeatedly and unlawfully OBSTRUCT my claim and litigation....

I was Pro Se Plaintiff in multiple cases and outrageously subjected to abuse and unlawful conducts during litigations...see the attached discovered email...Even such a simple email was sufficient to prove that the termination of my employment was wrongful. There are some statements in the attached email such as "We would like to suspend him for 5 days without pay" and "Yes...a suspension is OK..."..... No public entity and no judge/court in the SOIL OF THE U.S. can switch from "Mild decision of 5 days suspension without pay" to "Outrageous decision of Termination", although even 5 days suspension without pay was not correct too.

It is ridiculous that a discriminatory court do not let me to pursue litigations since 2014 until present and cooperate with Office of The City Attorney to Obstruct my Claim....San Diego Superior Court is a very corrupted court the same as Office of the City Attorney....It would be great if you could publish an article about the termination of my employment...

None

Aug. 29, 2017

Dorian... I am a U.S. Citizen with Iranian (Middle Eastern) National Origin...I have been a target of Racial/Ethnicity slurs for Numerous (Tens of Times) in different work places since the time of the beginning my new life in the U.S. I even resigned from my first job in the U.S. because of this matter although I had been awarded with "Employee of the Month" and "Employee of the Season".
Some of the racial slurs I received in different work places were that "Harsh" that even subjected me to "Shock" and "Temporary Numbness in whole body " for about 10-20 seconds. At the instance of receiving Harsh Racial Slur, one may feel that a "Flow of Clod Blood" circulate rapidly in the body simultaneous with feel of Temporary Numbness in whole body. Unfortunately, there is no actual legal protection against such conducts, particularly in a "Public" and/or "Local Government Organization".

I did some research to analyze the psychology of such individuals who make Harsh Racial Slurs in the work place. some of them make racial slur because of their belief about social matters (1 st group) BUT some of them make racial slurs because of their "Personality Deficiencies (2nd group)" in making "Harsh Racial Slurs" is part of their "Psychological Defense Mechanism".

In some subjects of psychology, people are being categorized based on psychological defense mechanism such as "REPRESSION", "SUPPRESSION", "REGRESSION", "DENIAL", "DISPLACEMENT", "RATIONALIZATION", "COMPENSATION", "INTELLECTUALIZATION", "ACTING OUT", "INTROJECTION", "IDENTIFICATION", "PROJECTION", "SUBLIMATION", "UNDOING", "REACTION FORMATION", "IDEALIZATION", "ANTICIPATION", "ALTRUISM", "AVOIDANCE", "HUMOUR", "ISOLATION", "FANTACY", "AFFLIATION", "DEVALUATION", "TRIVIALIZING", "DEFLECTION", "AIM INHIBITION", "SPLITTING", "WITHDRAWAL", "SOMATIZATION", "CONVERSION", "COMPARTMENTALIZATION", "DISSOCIATION", "OMNIPOTENCE", "SYMBOLIZATION", "AUTISTIC FANTACY", "RESISTANCE", "HELP-REJECTING COMPLAINING"....

After reading your article and based on my experience, the supervisor who made Racial Slur against the African-American Lady, is suffering from "Deep Psychological Complexities" and used the " Specific Psychological Defense Mechanism" known as "Displacement (see the above list)" for his own "Mental Complexities Discharge". I believe that the supervisor has "Deep Old Unresolved Psychological Complexity" and has tried to transfer his deep personal unresolved mental suffering to another in form of "Racial Slur".

Aug. 29, 2017

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