For 33 years at the Equal Rights Division in Milwaukee, Johnny Kimble devoted his career to helping others facing discrimination. As an employee of the state of Wisconsin, Kimble fought for equality in the workplace for dozens of people. His efforts, however, did not save him from the same kind of discrimination he long fought against. Last month, a federal judge ruled that Kimble, now retired, had been denied raises and promotions because of his race. The judge charged the Department of Workplace Development and the former administrator of the Equal Rights Division with discrimination. Kimble is now awaiting a settlement for back wages in an amount to be determined by the state of Wisconsin.  

The judge reviewed the case as well as several documents that proved that J. Sheenan Donoghue denied Kimble personal employee reviews and never gave him a single bonus in 12 years, even though he had been part of the Division’s management team for nearly 29 years. It was also shown that other employees with less experience who had been there a shorter time received bonuses while Kimble did not. Donoghue has maintained that the reason Kimble did not receive raises, bonuses or promotions was quite simply because she found that he did not perform his job well enough. This explanation did not hold water with the judge who determined Donoghue to be an uncredible witness whose personal feelings about an employee had clouded her opinions about  his performance. The judge also noted that Donoghue’s claims of poor job performance were contradicted by other witness testimony and therefore could not be reliable. Instead, the judge found that Donoghue was, in fact, basing her bias on unfair and untrue stereotypes about African American workers and their ability to perform.  

Thanks to the judgement in his favor, Johnny Kimble can now be a beneficiary of the very system he helped support. Now retired, his pension is considerably less than it would have been had he recieved the raises and bonuses that he deserved. Yet he remains hopeful that through further litigation he will finally see compensation for the invaluable work he did for the state of Wisconsin.

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