An African-American former employee at The Johns Hopkins University – School of Advanced International Studies, in Washington, D.C. filed a race discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation lawsuit against the university and against his former boss, George Petasis.
The employee, who was employed by JHU-SAIS as the Multimedia Production Coordinator, claims that he has over 25 years of multimedia experience working for organizations such as CNN, ABS, Fox News, ESPN, and Monday Night Football and teaching at Howard University and Texas A&M. He claims that he has received numerous accolades and awards for his work product.
The employee claims that he was harassed and physically assaulted by his boss, George Petasis, who was the Chief Information Officer at JHU-SAIS. According to Petasis’ LinkedIn profile, he stopped working at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in March 2013 and is currently the Chief Information Officer at the Georgetown University Law Center.
The communications departments for both the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Georgetown University Law Center did not respond to emails seeking comment on the case.
According to the complaint, which was filed on January 22, 2014:
The harassment at JHU-SAIS began immediately.
On Plaintiff’s first day, his manager a Caucasian male, Defendant George Petasis started to physically assault him.
Plaintiff was hit by Mr. Petasis at least a dozen times.
Plaintiff is unaware of Mr. Petasis’ assault or batteries of any Caucasian employees.
Plaintiff believes that Mr. Petasis hit him out of frustration and anger.
Plaintiff and Mr. Petasis were not friends and Plaintiff did not give Mr. Petasis permission to repeatedly touch him.
The Defendant Mr. Petasis had been warned previously by Defendant JHU to not touch any of his fellow employees or subordinates.
Upon observing the Defendant in the work area Plaintiff would position himself to prevent the Defendant from hitting him.
Plaintiff in accordance with JHU-SAIS’s harassment policy reported the conduct to his direct supervisor Ms. Sharon Richardson.
Ms. Richardson promptly brought the complaint to the attention of his supervisor Mr. Petasis.
The misconduct did not stop after this complaint was made known to Mr. Petasis.
On December 18, 2013 Mr. Petasis’ physical contact with Plaintiff caused Mr. Daniel to lose his balance and fall to the floor.
This incident was observed by another JHU-SIAS employee.
In January 2013, Mr. Petasis physically assaulted Plaintiff in front of Mr. Mike Berano, another JHU-SAIS employee.
On January 24, 2013, Plaintiff met with Mr. Shanna Hines, the head of human resources at HJU-SAIS and filed an abuse complaint.
At this meeting, Plaintiff also expressed fear of retaliation directly to Ms. Hines.
Plaintiff also expressed his fear of retaliation in writing at least three (3) times in his complaint.
Plaintiff did not make an official paper complaint because he feared reprisal by Defendant George Petasis.
On January 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed a formal complaint with JHU-SAIS human resources and with the Johns Hopkins University Office of Institutional Equity in Baltimore, Maryland.
On January 26, 2013, Plaintiff emailed an Equity Compliance form to Ms. Linda Daley-Atila.
On February 4, 2013, ten (10) days after making his official complaint, Plaintiff was wrongfully terminated from JHU-SAIS.
On April 23, 2013, Plaintiff had surgery on his shoulder for pain and injuries suffered due to the hits sustained by the misconduct of Mr. Petasis.
Plaintiff was also subjected to intense scrutiny by Mr. Muhammad Elahi at the suggestion of Mr. Petasis.
Plaintiff believes this scrutiny was uncalled for and discriminatory in nature.
As a result of the Defendants’ foregoing actions, Plaintiff suffered extreme stress, extreme anguish, loss of self-confidence, loss of self-worth, extreme humiliation, and loss of compensation.
On April 22, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC.
On November 26,2013, the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue.