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4 white women claim racial discrimination at JFS

Published: Fri, June 15, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.



By Peter H. Milliken



Mahoning County commissioners have been hit with a reverse-discrimination lawsuit exceeding $1 million.

Four white women, including the immediate past director and three current employees of the Mahoning County Department of Job and Family Services, sued the commissioners, saying they have suffered discrimination, retaliation and emotional distress because of the behavior of some black JFS employees.

The former JFS director, Judee L. Genetin of Canton, who resigned in November 2010 to become Portage County JFS director, said she was forced to quit her job here under intolerable conditions that amounted to a wrongful termination.

“Due to being restricted in the proper performance of her job functions by policies and procedures of Mahoning County regarding racial issues, double standards for employees depending on their race and intolerable working conditions, Plaintiff Genetin was forced to resign,” the lawsuit said.

John A. McNally IV, chairman of the commissioners, declined to comment, saying he had not seen the lawsuit. “It’s been referred to our insurance counsel,” he said.

County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, who is in charge of the commissioners’ legal defense, declined to comment because it is pending litigation.

Commissioner Anthony T. Traficanti would not comment on the lawsuit, except to wonder aloud why Genetin never expressed the complaints in her legal action while she was working for the county.

“I don’t remember her ever raising those concerns during the time that she worked for us. Why are they coming out now?” he asked.

Genetin, who was paid $100,896 annually when she left here, could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

The other three women named in the lawsuit filed in common pleas court still work at JFS.

They are Lisa Moore of Lowellville, who joined the county in 1995; Sharon M. Sabatka of Youngstown, who joined the county in 1997; and Rosemary Colucci of Youngstown, who joined the county in 2004.

Moore and Sabatka are child support data-entry specialists. Colucci is a child-support clerk.

The lawsuit quotes part of a statement made from notes by Robert E. Bush Jr., JFS director, during an April 2012 staff meeting and says Bush was barring the plaintiffs from speaking out against discrimination.

“You can threaten to file grievances, EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) complaints, or call the commissioners. It falls on deaf ears. You will be terminated if you continue to participate in this type of conduct,” Bush was quoted as saying.

The quote is identical to one paragraph of a two-page, single-spaced, roughly-typed statement Bush faxed to The Vindicator on Thursday afternoon.

Bush said he was threatening to fire anyone engaging in discriminatory behavior, not to terminate employees because they filed EEOC complaints.

Bush said the quote was taken out of context from the statement, which was designed to discourage bickering between black and white JFS employees.

At a later point in the statement faxed to the paper, however, Bush decried those he said constantly call the commissioners in an attempt to influence the agency’s course “through political means,” and he threatened to fire employees who call the commissioners to complain about specific co-workers.

“I will consider it an act of unsubordination [sic], and, if the caller is identified to me, I will discharge that person,” Bush’s statement said.

“There are some internal issues that we’re dealing with up at the agency, and my concern is they impact the public,” Bush said. “If you and I are having a bad day as employees, it’s going to impact our delivery of services to the public, and that’s my concern,” Bush said Thursday, echoing part of his April statement to JFS employees.

Both white and black JFS workers have filed EEOC complaints, and many grievances have been filed and calls made to commissioners concerning racial issues at JFS, he added.

“Until we start to respect one another, I don’t anticipate any changes in the atmosphere here,” Bush told his staff.

The lawsuit alleges white employees are barred from having personal visitors at JFS, but certain black employees are permitted to leave the office on work time to pick up their children and bring them to the office for the rest of the work day.

It also alleges some black employees are permitted to donate and exchange sick time among themselves, but white employees are not accorded that privilege.

Bush said he had no knowledge of such practices.

The suit said a black employee was permitted to run through a hallway waving an Obama flag and shouting, “We are going to change things here,” upon learning the commissioners had tabled Genetin’s promotion from acting director to director. The commissioners later appointed Genetin as director.

The suit alleges the county tolerated racial slurs and derogatory remarks by some black employees against white employees and conducted sham investigations of such incidents.

“I would hope everybody would get along and respect everybody, no matter what color they are. We are all to be respectful and mindful of everybody’s situation in county government, and, if there is a problem, it should be resolved through the director,” Traficanti said.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial, $1 million in punitive damages and more than $25,000 in compensatory damages.

The case is assigned to Judge Lou A. D’Apolito.


1Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


Thought the same thing. Only blacks can be discriminated against??

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2chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Discrimination occurs when a majority class acts prejudicially against a member of a minority class based on race. Reverse Discrimination is when a minority acts prejudically against a majority member based on race.

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3cheybaby2(102 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Whites are discriminated against. We are called every name in the book by blacks, Blacks usually in there 60's are just nice respectful decent people. but 50's and younger look out,, I'm not saying all but so many of them are wiping there feet on us , trashing us, beating the white kids up. and the violence is way out of hand.. Stop teaching and Spreading Hate Then we Will All Get Along

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4USMC0331(151 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Discrimination does not have to be by a majority against a minority!!!!

Discrimination- is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership - or perceived membership - in a certain group or category. It involves the groups initial reaction or interaction, influencing the individuals actual behavior towards the group or the group leader, restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to a group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making as for the Solo persons profile is discriminated based on a bias or a logical reason.

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5DontBanThisDrone(758 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The lawyers should "settle" - using the free taxpayer money of course - and everyone will get a little cut of the kitty.


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6endthismess(405 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Once again, no managers, as usual.....and what is Bush doing here running this place with his mouth blabbing away...and who he's going to fire....looks like Bush is.trying to line up another pension????? Good for the voices who have filed the complaint. Thought Bush retired from the YPD....he should keep his mouth shut as this has become racial and now he managed to put a light on himself....he's a double dipper....blow out everyone...including Bush...and let this enire matter go to trial.

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7DwightK(1384 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

If your employees are going around you and over your head to the county commissioners, you aren't a good manager. This is proven by Bush's statement that threatens retaliation for contacting the commissioners but doesn't mention a resolution to the problems the employees have.

If Robert Bush can't determine if children were being cared for in the JFS offices or can't find out if sick or vacation time was being traded among employees, why is he in charge?

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8gingerspice(129 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

How sad!! The tension in that office is probably horrible. It is already a stressful job and to have this craziness going on. I am guessing these are so called "Christian" women. What Would Jesus Do??????

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9Silence_Dogood(1512 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Maybe we need a stronger EARTHQUAKE to get rid of all this trouble.

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10drpautot(70 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

There have been both black and white that i have dealt with in that office, i find as long as your cordial, people respect you. However i have felt several times that i was discriminated against as a client.

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11walter_sobchak(2246 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

According to this article, Genetin alleges that the policies and procedures of Mahoning County prevented her from doing her job. Thus, her only choice, since she was the JFS director, would be to resign her position since the policies wouldn't change. She will lose or settle for a reduced amount. The other three plaintiffs, however, may have a case against Bush if he truly prevented them from blowing the whistle on racial discrimination. My perception is that there is an intolerable work environment that Bush wants to keep a distance from because he doesn't want to anger certain "ladies", umm-hmm.

Silence: That is funny!!!!

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12gingerspice(129 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

toycannon-- anytime you're dealing with an office of "catty women", that alone is worth a hundred thousand a year! They should include "hazard pay" also! If these employees would take their energy and put it into their work and taking care of the clients without being judgemental and nasty, I bet there would be no time left for the nonesense!! I'm just sayin'.

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13stewie(109 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

$100,896 a year! Holy crap! Where do I sign up?

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14jeepers(127 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I wonder how many years this has gone on? These white women probably put up with lots of little things for years until it reached a snapping point. It sounds like all of the employees are VERY WELL PAID. Same old situation that anyone with a responsible work-ethic must put up with in the public work place. A few employees carrying the load for the easy-going loafers. Oops- racist remark-or is it a realist? It always depends on which "side" you are on.

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15chubbalubba(2 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Color should not matter. It sounds like these commissioners need to have better control of their government employees. Quite often you hear of these shenanigans going on and no talk of productive improvement in the workplace. It is, in fact, just that. WORKplace. Why can't these people forget about the color of their skin and just go to work? Sit down in your office chair and work. Unemployment is sky high. I'm sure we can find several people to replace the ones who don't want to work. If any of these people had to work in a non-government, nonunion job they wouldn't last more than 1 day.

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16Sunny(25 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I'm offended by your comments. First of all, what does being a Christian have to do with anything in this story? It doesn't mention it, so why would you throw that out there? I can only assume you like to "stir the pot".

Secondly, your comment about the woman staying in a job for $100K that she found intolerable - it doesn't matter how much money you make, you still have bills to pay and you don't know what her personal situation is like at home or financially. If anything, she was behaving professionally and responsibly by not quitting one job before finding another!! If only more people would behave that way - despite intolerable work conditions - the free handouts might subside. This is what RESPONSIBLE and PROFESSIONAL people do!

Your comments were inflammatory and unnecessary. And by the way, your comment regarding 'catty women' was not only offensive, but SEXIST! And that's just as bad as being racist!

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17MzVirgoLuv(158 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The funny thing is, I had been on government assistance for a many of years and glad to say that I no longer need them, but I have never had a Black/Brown case worker. I know there are plenty there but there are way more White case workers there and believe me, most of them treated me like I was a leper. I know this can be very stressful to deal with at work and I don't condone discrimination from any color/race/gender and hope that something can be resolved. But I have witnessed first hand going there how a lot of the Black/Brown case workers were talked to by their counterparts. I saw nastiness coming from the White women and have seen how some of the Black women actually coward by not addressing this. I am not saying that it has not happened to the Whites because I am sure it has. But at the risk of sounding cliche`: Well, now they know how we have been feeling for centuries and still feel today. Welcome to racism, it sucks, doesn't it?

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18gingerspice(129 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Sunny- didn't mean to offend you. Now, go pray about it and ask GOD to help you forgive me!

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19Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


"Well, now they know how we have been feeling for centuries and still feel today.""

Here we go.. this is 2012 not centuries ago, let it go, it's over and done with, Hello McFly, it's the past... I'm sure you never suffered like they did in the past....give it a break! You feel discriminated against??? I would love to hear some examples of this discrimination.

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20southsidedave(5117 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Discrimination is illegal - regardless of Race, stop playing the color card all of the time.

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21Stugots(2 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Your missing the point about the policies in place. The contracts are so bad that the useless unions that represent the lazy workers did a number on the county. These women of color walk around down there (most hired from Mt. Calvary) and do as little as possible. Remember the HR director down there fired for hiring everyone from Wagner's koolaid drinkers. Management has no rights in the contract to control the out of control behavior.

The agency is state funded and county run. The state should just come in fire everyone and start over. I understand one worker who is the union rep at the agency makes over $75k and does nothing! Not surprising for government workers but enough is enough.

The answer is easy no unions for government workers. The federal government doesn't have them so why SHOULD the states allow it. TIME FOR OHIO TO GO RIGHT TO WORK!!!

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22jfgiancola(174 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

They (DJFS) need investigated for many reasons. One being this: I work for a local dollar store chain. Several times I have sold someone over $100 worth of nothing but pop on the EBT card. I know for a fact that this pop is going to a local "Arab" store for resale. I have tried to turn over information to the DJFS and have been unsuccessful. Nobody wants to hear anything, nobody cares. The purpose of those cards is for the puchaase of FOOD for poor families to eat, not to help the "Arab" store make money.

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23WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


Have you ever heard the phrase "the wheel turns?" That means that what comes around goes around. If people like you accept, tolerate and even encourage racial discrimination because you feel it is warranted then you are no different than the few whites that practiced it in the past- mostly Democrats by the way. If you do not put a stop to discrimination then you keep it alive and should not be surprised when the wheel turns again and your people are under the thumb of oppression once more.

Instead of gloating, why not take advantage of your freedoms, civil rights and opportunities to make things better. We all regret that some people acted so badly and treated others so poorly. But that gives you no right whatsoever to enjoy seeing reversal hundreds of years after the end of slavery and a half century after Jim Crow.

For your enlightenment, millions upon millions of White people like me, the vast majority of us, never wanted slavery or Jim Crow. Almost all of us believe very strongly that the color of skin means nothing at all and were disheartened at the injustices of the past. But we had no control over the government. The elected officials did these things- again it was all Democrats.

But don't hold hard feelings against Whites. Almost all of us had nothing to do with the oppression of Blacks. Only some dark-hearted Democrats wanted to oppress. Check the site "Black and Right" for a great overview of racial politics in America.

Happy 4th!

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24rightofronnie(11 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Ok...we are WELL past the whole black and white thing by now right? If everyone wants the world to be fair, then lets eliminate all the special groups, special clubs, special assistance, and special names and just be EQUAL. There shouldnt be any issue now right? I mean...we do have a black president so that should be the pinnacle yes? These ladies have every right to sue if this is what was going on...racial discrimination has been going on against whites for a long time.

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25jen74(1 comment)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Mahoning County Child support workers are terrible. For the past 13 years all of the workers black and white have been lazy, rude and ignorant! I have gone to the window (@ Oakhill) several times only to listen to personal cel conversations by workers of all races. If any of them did their jobs, instead of engaging in petty child like behaviors their department would run better. I wrote a letter to Ms. Genetin during her tenure, she never addressed my issues with her employees accidentally canceling support orders or their failure to enforce the court order, or their ignorant comments. There are hundreds of people in this valley who would appreciate a well paying government position (that would actually perform their job duties!) what a joke!!! These people want compensated for being mistreated-every time you go there, they mistreat you! I have been told by workers its my fault my ex-husband does not pay, because I married him. Or they told me not to count on child support, because they can't make anyone pay! Why does the court make us go through child support if they can't enforce the order? These people should all be fired! $100,000 a year to do nothing is ridiculous, and now she wants more money?? She was in charge!! The whole thing is absurd. Bunch of whiners!! Fire them all and start over with ADULTS!!

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