Black employee of Architect of the Capitol alleges racial discrimination, retaliation

Lawsuit follows settling of a different suit alleging office misconduct

Architect of the Capitol workers clear snow from the East Front of the U.S. Capitol during the snow storm in Washington on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Architect of the Capitol workers clear snow from the East Front of the U.S. Capitol during the snow storm in Washington on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 28, 2022 at 4:40pm

Lynn Long, a Black mechanic for the Architect of the Capitol, was referred to as a racial slur and as “lazy” by colleagues, was tasked with “dirty jobs” and subjected to different working conditions than his white co-workers, a lawsuit filed Friday against the agency alleges.

The complaint — which claims Long has been discriminated against based on his race, retaliated against and subjected to a hostile work environment — comes after one of Long’s colleagues, Anthony Green, settled a lawsuit with the agency in November of 2021. Green, who is a Black man, alleged he found a noose hanging from equipment he was assigned to inspect and was called racial slurs. The agency agreed to pay Green $85,000 in “compensatory damages.”

Four individuals, three of them white and one Black, “openly spoke poorly, and in racially charged terms” about Long and Green, the lawsuit says. They also falsely claimed Long and Green worked more slowly than other mechanics, that their work was inferior and that the Black employees were “lazy,” according to the lawsuit.

In several instances, one member of the group bumped or knocked into Long while passing him and loudly slammed objects — including doors and computers — near Long and other Black employees to intimidate them, the lawsuit alleges.

In January of 2016, the agency’s diversity, inclusion and dispute resolution office undertook an assessment of the maintenance mechanic shop, which revealed it was divided into two camps — with one side supportive of Black employees and the other antagonistic to Black employees, the complaint says.

On or about May 8, 2019, Long heard from another mechanic that one member of the group had threatened to “beat” Long’s “ass,” a threat Long reported to the shop supervisor.

The threat against Long was investigated, and Long followed up with the investigator on June 3, 2019, and was told Long the situation would be handled “in house.” The lawsuit says the person issuing the threat to Long faced no disciplinary action and is still employed by the agency as a work leader.

Green filed a lawsuit against the Architect of the Capitol in November 2019. The agency concluded Long would be a supporting witness to Green’s lawsuit, according to the filing.

In June 2021, an assistant supervisor job opening came about that Long interviewed for in September. He found out he didn’t get the job, and responses Long got from the panel explaining the decision “were incoherent and indicative of both discrimination and retaliation,” according to the lawsuit.

Further, the person who eventually got the job was “not black, who had not engaged in protected activity, and who had far less relevant experience than Mr. Long in the unique systems and equipment found at the Capitol Power Plant,” the lawsuit states.

A spokesperson for Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton did not respond to a request for comment.

Les Alderman, Long’s attorney, said this type of behavior has been prevalent on Capitol Hill.

“This kind of discriminatory conduct has been going on right under the noses of Congress for too long. Employees keep waiting for someone in Congress to show some interest and hold management at the Architect of the Capitol accountable,” Alderman said in a statement. “So far no one appears interested in answering the call.”