Former WSU employee adds new claims to suit, including racial discrimination

Darryl Riser says defendants used inappropriate language, created hostile environment

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Darryl Riser, a former WSU employee who filed an ongoing lawsuit regarding his termination along with claims alleged mistreatment, has entered a motion containing 46 amended claims including allegations of racial discrimination against the school, two administrators and a fellow employee.

The claim named: Don Holbrook Academic Affairs Budget Director; Brian Dixon, Assistant Vice President of Student Financial Services and employee Randi Croyle. It states the three defendants “engaged in employment discrimination,” and “acted egregiously out of malice, outside the scope of their official capacity,” according to court documents.

Riser is asking for over $8 million in damages in addition to legal fees, and back pay retroactive to March 9. He is also asking for his job back, or five years of forward pay if he is not reinstated to his old post.

In addition, Riser is asking for the one-year suspension or termination of various administrators, including President Kirk Schulz, Provost Dan Bernardo and Executive Director Eric Godfrey, along with those named in the suit and several others.

The first claim in the suit alleges that Riser, an African-American, was called “a slave” by his colleagues, who are also accused of using analogies involving whipping and chains, according to the filing. The suit further accuses Croyle, a Caucasian woman, of making “continuous reference to slave language directly” toward Riser.

The same claim in the filing also said Croyle’s actions violated WSU’s Executive Policy 15, which deals with discrimination and misconduct.

WSU has previously stated it will not comment on the matter as it is a piece of ongoing litigation.

The next claim describes a time Riser had a coworker, Maja Gillespie, attend a meeting between him and Human Resources Services so he could file a complaint. Riser alleges Gillespie then disclosed information about the complaint to the alleged perpetrators and that the university never disciplined Gillespie over the matter.

The filing goes on to claim he was given “different terms and conditions of employment from those of similar employees” of different races and genders.

Riser kept claims from earlier filings as well, including violations of whistleblower protection laws after he went forward with concerns of discrimination by administrators. He was fired in March for work performance issues, but Riser said he was not given a formal hearing process after he appealed the decision.

Various other wrongdoings are listed throughout the 46 claims in the recent filing, including violations of Riser’s due process rights, unreasonable searches, civil rights missteps, emotional distress, fraud, retaliation and defamation, among others.