'I don't want a n***** for a boss': MDOC facing racial discrimination lawsuit

An employee is suing the Michigan Department of Corrections for alleged "rampant racism," which he claimed was a pattern since he first reported it. 

State corrections Michael Doss is bringing state and federal law discrimination claims against the department. Doss was an MDOC employee for 13 years and worked as a correctional officer in Parnall Correctional Facility for 12 of them. He became a captain in 2017.

The claim alleges his added duties, like resolving staffing and work process issues, caused his coworkers to become resentful. He states issues began when he was interviewing for a warden position. His supervisor, Frank Sawyer, allegedly said: "I don't want a ni**** for a boss" at the department's Christmas party. It was allegedly said in front of several people. Doss received a call from an anonymous source that Sawyer made the statement, then Doss went to the deputy warden, who confirmed -- he had heard it at the party.

The suit states Doss filed a complaint, and his supervisor was given a "slap on the wrist," or five days off. It states the culture and acceptance of racism was so prevalent within the MDOC that the supervisor laughed and said he would "drink a beer for each day."

From there, things around the office grew strained for Doss.

"Plaintiff was singled out and ostracized by his peers. For example, certain Caucasian coworkers would ignore him, ostracize him, and act as if he was not a human being," the suit states. 

The suit states Doss was ignored, excluded from interview panels and meetings where work-related issues were discussed, including the direction of the facility.

"On one occasion Plaintiff was speaking with a group of coworkers when one staff member made the comment, "All we have to do is get some Hennessy and fried chicken and Mike (Plaintiff) would come over to help in a heartbeat." This is a racist, derogatory comment implying that all African Americans drink Hennessy and eat fried chicken."

The MDOC's culture was allegedly so racially hostile that inmates came forward to speak about how Doss was talked about, including saying they had heard people call him the n-word. 

Moss has requested a judgment in an amount the "Court of jury deems just and fair."