Roy Gilbert

State insurance employee files lawsuit alleging racism, sexism

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DOVER — An employee of the Delaware Department of Insurance on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro and others alleging racial and sexual harassment that got worse after she reported it.

Fleur McKendell, who joined the department in January 2016, names in the suit the Department of Insurance and the Office of Management and Budget in general, as well as Mr. Navarro and several current or former state employees.

She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, plus an injunction requiring the department to grant her accommodations for a medical condition and an order to mandate anti-harassment training and study race and gender bias and the process for filing complaints within the agency.
A director of life and health consumer services, Ms. McKendell is the only black employee within the agency holding such a position.

About 30 people, including civil rights leaders and reporters, attended Wednesday’s announcement of the litigation, which Ms. McKendell’s attorneys said represents “a line in the sand.”
“From January 2017 to the present, Ms. McKendell has been subjected to escalating discrimination and retaliation based on her race, sex, disability, request for accommodation and complaints both in administrative charges and the press, regarding unequal treatment,” the suit alleges.

“This treatment has fundamentally altered the terms and conditions of her employment, created a hostile work environment, has interfered with her opportunities for growth and advancement, has undermined her with her subordinates, has created and exacerbated a painful psychological condition, and has resulted in extreme emotional distress to Ms. McKendell.”

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