Brenda Hampton is fighting for justice after being fired for claiming racial discrimination at her job.
By Brian W. Carter
Sentinel Staff Writer
Brenda Hampton was a contract employee for ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). She was responsible for housing and transporting undocumented immigrants at the Downtown L.A. Detention Facility while employed by Spectrum.
Hampton, a Black woman, experienced repeated racist remarks made by a fellow employee, Officer Bradley Lawless. Lawless, a White man continuously made racist jokes directed to Hampton according to her.
She claimed that she addressed him many times about the jokes and that they were inappropriate and unappreciated. “I’ve asked him numerous times to stop with the joking-he kept going on with the jokes,” said Hampton. She claims that his reply to her objections were, “so what, it’s just jokes,” said Hampton.
Lawless, according to Hampton, has made off-hand jokes about Black people, said the ‘N-word” in front of her and others, and taken a stuff animal, a monkey, and put her name on it, claiming it was her and her “brothers.”
“I was just so devastated, I went to the restroom and just started crying because I felt like I couldn’t do anything,” said Hampton. “He had more authority than I had.” She stated it was hard to really place an argument against him because of his position and certain supervisors wouldn’t take the jokes seriously. “My hands were tied with this man.”
Hampton named another incident where she took a fall and injured herself. She claims Lawless attempted to help her and in doing so, he made another off-hand comment. “This man touch my side and said ‘It feels like you’re having puppies,'” said Hampton.
As previously stated, Hampton has taken her complaints to her supervisor but to no avail. Another supervisor told her that the Head Supervisor had made a statement about her situation. “What this supervisor told me is that he said, ‘He’s [Head supervisor] not going to lose his job behind no Black girl,'” said Hampton.
“They don’t get rid of the person that works for the federal, they get rid of the person that works for the contract.” Unfortunately, this whole fiasco got Hampton fired from her job. “I took every step that they asked me to do-and I got smacked in my face!” said Hampton. “They fired me and gave Lawless a promotion.”
Hampton has been fighting for justice since being fired from her job. “I’ve been in this trial since 2007 when all this happened,” said Hampton,” I never thought they would retaliate against me and fire me. I have six kids that I have to raise.”
The first trial ended in a hung jury and now they’re in the process of a second trial. Hampton intends to fight for the justice she believes she deserves. “I worked hard to get to the level I was at.” said Hampton. She expressed her thoughts, hurt and pain over these trials that have taken a toll on her physically and emotionally.
The National Association For Equal Justice In America (NAEJA) is working on behalf of Hampton to make sure justice is served. “She was treated very badly,” said Royce W. Esters, President/CEO. “They need to be exposed.”
NAEJA is a non-profit organization formed in 1997 to eliminate racial discrimination and segregation, seek justice, education and opportunities for all minorities. “We went to court and monitored,” said Esters, “the private investigator and myself.” Esters feels their presence and speaking with the attorney helped to address the true issue, racial discrimination. NAEJA has requested for the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Attorney’s Office and Congresswoman Laura Richardson to help concerning Hampton’s case.
“They teach us-sexual and racial harassment is not allowed,” said Hampton. Sadly, in Hampton case, it seems there were exceptions made for her. The second case is currently ongoing in Los Angeles.