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Caltrans and SANDAG are planning to add a carpool lane between Lomas Santa Fe and state Route 78 in each direction starting next fall. Commuters often get stuck in traffic between Carlsbad and Solana Beach during rush hour. Photo by Ellen Wright
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CommunityNewsRegionSan Diego

Ex-Caltrans employee alleges racism, harassment in lawsuit

REGION — A former Caltrans employee has filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court alleging he routinely faced racism in the workplace from a supervisor who was never investigated or disciplined.

Angel Saucedo says he and other Hispanic employees were frequent targets of mistreatment, particularly from one of his white supervisors, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court.

That supervisor allegedly referred to Hispanic employees as “the brownie boys” and passed around mock credit cards dubbed “White Privilege” cards, one of which was handed to Saucedo when he requested a credit card to pay for gas for his Caltrans truck.

During a news conference announcing the lawsuit, one of Saucedo’s attorneys, John Gomez, said that while working at Caltrans, Saucedo was “subjected to repeated and outrageous acts of racism.”

The attorney said that after making complaints, Saucedo was told “not to make trouble. That’s just how things were at Caltrans.”

“Caltrans ignored Mr. Saucedo time and time again. With no other choice, he came to us to seek justice and to help protect his Caltrans Hispanic and Latino co-workers from continued racism and bullying,” Gomez said.

A Caltrans spokesperson said the agency does not comment on litigation matters.

Saucedo, who began working for the agency in 2021, said, “Little did I know that my dream career would be filled with open racism, a toxic work environment, hostility and retaliation.”

The lawsuit, which seeks damages for loss of income and psychological and emotional distress, alleges that Saucedo complained to his superiors, but nothing changed and other supervisors “laughed off” requests to have the white supervisor moved to another work location.

It also alleges he was retaliated against by being assigned work that endangered him. The lawsuit points to an incident last summer in which Saucedo allegedly was tasked with laying traffic cones on a busy freeway without a traffic break and was nearly struck by vehicles.

Attorney Emilia Arutunian said Saucedo did not want to leave his job.

Arutunian said that prior to filing the lawsuit, she advised Saucedo to file a complaint with Caltrans because “I was certain once (Caltrans Human Resources) got a hold of the complaint, they would fire the supervisor and Angel could keep his job. However, that did not happen.”

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