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URBANA, Ill. (WAND)- Four black employees have filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Illinois, claiming civil rights violations in various departments including the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Access.

In the suit filed Monday, plaintiffs Giraldo Rosales, Melvin Boatner, Adrian Flowers and Frank McCurry say they were wrongly passed over for promotions and retaliated against when they complained.

Rosales, a black man of Cuban national origin, worked for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Access when he was passed over for a promotion in 2014 while three white workers were promoted and received salary increases, according to the suit.

After Rosales complained to human resources and university leadership, the office’s director began giving Rosales negative performance reviews, criticized him for being overly demonstrative in his speech and questioned his ability to relate to the “majority population” of the university, according to the complaint.

In May 2017, Rosales was passed over for a merit pay increase based on negative performance reviews and complained again. In August 2018, the director recommended termination by not renewing Rosale’s contract, according to the lawsuit.

Boatner said he had raised concerns about racist harassment and intimidation of employees in the Facilities and Services Department, including employees finding nooses and use of racial slurs, according to the suit.

In 2014, Boatner submitted a complaint against a superior over a “failed search” that passed over a black candidate. Boatner said he was subjected to a string of retaliatory employment actions, including being passed over for a merit raise due to negative evaluations given after Boatner’s complaints, according to the suit.

During a November 2017 meeting with a supervisor, Boatner suffered a stroke and collapsed, but the director of occupational safety for his department did not call for help or call for any medical attention and sent Boatman home, according to the complaint.

Flowers, a groundskeeper, began raising concerns about “disparate access to tools and training for Black groundskeepers” in 2007 and, in April 2016, returned to his desk to find another employee twirling a noose, according to the suit.

McCurry, a carpenter in the Facilities and Services Department, said he regularly received favorable performance reviews but was not given opportunities for promotion and began receiving negative performance reviews after complaining, according to the complaint.  

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