San Diego County employee alleges racist conduct

Posted at 7:22 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 22:22:32-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A San Diego County woman says her supervisor touched her without her permission and used a racial slur when he referenced one of her co-workers.

"I couldn't believe that he actually said it to me," Tyler Fowler said.

On Tuesday, Tyler Fowler filed a lawsuit against the County of San Diego and her immediate supervisor Mark Sitzer.

"It seems like the county has a difficult time understanding the racial aspect of what zero tolerance means," she said.

According to the lawsuit, "In April, Sitzer approached her while she was talking to a co-worker and stroked the back of her head, commenting that it was 'like petting my dog.'"

The lawsuit claims a few weeks later he touched her again without consent.

It says he patted her head while saying, "I'm so proud of you."

"It made me feel like property, and it kind of goes back to, for me, to the slavery days where you belonged to someone else where they can do with you what they want to, they can say to you what they want to and you really have no choice in yet," she said.

Fowler told Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin she was shocked by her supervisor’s treatment but says comments he made a few weeks later when talking about a distant co-worker only made things worse.

"He went on to say ya, she must have found out that I was a n***** lover, sitting in my office right across my desk from me in such a matter of fact way," she said.

According to the lawsuit, Sitzer is a Division One Chief at the County Assessors Office.

Fowler says he's spent the past six years as her immediate supervisor.

Her attorney believes it's time for him to go.

"Once he admitted it, they had no choice but to let him go," he said. "Not only was it the legally correct thing to do, it's just the morally correct thing to do."

Gilleon says the county didn't do that and by not terminating him they are sending a message.

"At the county of San Diego, a governmental body that's so powerful for them to condone this and to say you know what Tyler why don't you move, no ok well then we're going to move him over here but it's only going to be temporary, that's an act of ratification that's an act of enabling," he said.

Gilleon says Sitzer called Fowler after the incident and left a message on her voice mail.

He says Sitzer admitted that he used the slur.

Racusin asked Fowler when she hears that word, what it feels like to her.

"It feels like racism is alive and well in America, that's what it feels like to me," Fowler said.

10News tried to get a hold of Sitzer for a comment but did not hear back.

In a statement a San Diego County spokesperson wrote:

"We have not yet been served and cannot comment on individual personnel matters. However, any case like this would be considered serious and investigated fully.”

To read the entire lawsuit: PDF document