ACLU Sued For Race Discrimination

Robert Jackson has a point. So what if he was a probationary employee at the time? So what if he thought it wise to take his superior to task for engaging in conduct that he and some of his similarly-situated colleagues found reprehensible? He worked for the organization that once stood for civil liberties, but is now supposed to stand for Robert Jackson.

Robert Jackson filed a lawsuit Tuesday in New York District Court accusing the ACLU of not treating its own Black employees with the kind of equity that one would expect from a bastion of American values, equality, and justice. He says he and his Black colleagues were told to “keep quiet” about their criticisms concerning the organization’s lack of leadership diversity, and he claims his bosses eventually tried to push him to quit his job.

“Despite the good the ACLU has done for the Black community outside of its walls, it appears that the scope of its stated mission starts and ends there,” Jackson’s lawsuit claims. “As was made clear to Mr. Jackson, complaints about systemic racism within the ACLU itself are not welcome, nor are the people who speak out.”

The problem started at a conference in December, 2019, when ACLU director Kary Moss stood beside former attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. All smiles and happiness.

Jackson was offended by the smiles, and along with some of his fellow ACLUers, took to the podium to express his outrage.

Dismayed over the photo, Jackson and several of his colleagues decided to make a speech to the 140 ACLU employees in attendance highlighting the lack of Black leadership. The group didn’t just criticize the ACLU, according to the lawsuit; they offered clear proposals on what could be done to address the disparity.

His superiors at the ACLU didn’t take kindly to this move, according to the complaint in the Southern District of New York, which alleges that they withdrew support, then demoted him and “restarted” his probation in the new “analyst” job that was four levels below his old Associate Director job, until he was ultimately forced out.

His direct supervisor, Lucia Tian, allegedly told him to just “keep quiet.” He would not, which he claims not only cost him his job, but “severely impacted his mental health, including [] causing suicidal ideation.”

The complaint is well-pleaded and establishes a plausible claim of racial discrimination against the ACLU.

117. As with the decision to demote Mr. Jackson in the middle of his probationary period without prior warning, the ACLU’s resetting of Mr. Jackson’s probationary period was highly irregular and indicative of unlawful animus.
118. As news of the demotion spread throughout the New York office, countless colleagues approached Mr. Jackson to express their shock and anger over the way the ACLU was treating him.
119. Moreover, multiple Black colleagues shared their own experiences with Ms. Tian, who had similarly interfered with their assignments and prevented them from advancing within the Organization.
120. Among these colleagues was David Oliver, who Ms. Tian demoted and replaced with a white employee.

Is this an instance of the ACLU suing others to “do as I say, not as I do”? The ACLU has yet to answer or move to dismiss, so its position has yet to be established. It would very well contend that Jackson wasn’t quite as good at his job as he thinks he was, or that his actions were insubordination, undermining a carefully orchestrated scheme by the ACLU to gain influence with its enemies so as to accomplish its version of the greater good, which some out-of-the-policy-loop employees blew up because they failed to grasp that the organization had a strategy to which they were not privy. After all, no organization can run subject to the individualized approval of every employee who feels entitled to publicly call them out as the very evil they exist to battle.

And from a basic employment perspective, does a probationary employee get to publicly undermine his management at a conference because they aren’t doing things the way he feels they should?

143. Ms. Tian claimed, while laughing and with palpable condescension, that Mr. Jackson did not have the necessary “skills” (though she characteristically offered no explanation as to how or why this was the case).
144. During their next meeting, Mr. Jackson made clear to Ms. Tian that he felt she had been targeting him because of his race and color.
145. Ms. Tian ended the meeting early shortly thereafter.

There may well be myriad defenses thrown up by the ACLU in response to Jackson’s accusations. And he may well be the “employee from hell” if this were some other employer. But if, as he alleges, he was the victim of retaliation for alleging that the ACLU was a hotbed of discrimination against black men, then the ACLU has a very serious problem on its hands. It’s hard to point one’s finger and j’accuse others of racism when one’s own house is just as dirty.

8 thoughts on “ACLU Sued For Race Discrimination

  1. Hunting Guy


    “ It’s hard to point one’s finger and j’accuse others of racism when one’s own house is just as dirty.”


    Why should the ACLU be any different than any other progressive organization?

    The Congressional Black Caucus won’t seat a Black Republican.

    Harvard discriminates against Asians.

    And on and on.

    1. SHG Post author

      This is the problem with holding oneself out as the paragon of virtue. If a corporation’s reason for being is to make a profit, then doing what’s necessary to be profitable, even if less than virtuous, fulfills its promise.

  2. B. McLeod

    ACLU may itself have fallen through the Overton Window. It’s wokieness has been flagging of late. The best part of the federal decision whacking the PA version of Rule 8.4(g) was the court’s citation of ACLU publications in support of its result. Now we find out that ACLU won’t even cooperate with a probationary employee’s demands to put some black folks in charge of the organization. This is going to be a fun case to watch.

  3. KP

    “severely impacted his mental health, including causing suicidal ideation.”

    They were right not to make him Boss…

  4. Richard Parker

    This is not your Daddy’s ACLU. It, for sure, is not your Granddaddy’s ACLU. It’s a sorry a** organization these days. (I was a member for several years.)

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