Former Elberta employee files suit against town for racial discrimination


A former Elberta employee has filed suit against the town for racial discrimination.

Steve Archuleta, a former employee in the town’s public works department, filed suit in June of this year against the town because of racially offensive names he was called by then-Elberta Mayor Marvin Williams.

In Aug. 2015, Gulf Coast Media reported that a claim had been filed against the town by Archuleta that resulted in the letter of determination released last month.

Archuleta, who said he is of Thai and Spanish descent, was a Public Works employee for the town from July 2013 to July 2015, where his complaint alleges that he was subjected to a racially hostile work environment.

Archuleta said in his complaint Williams “regularly called me racially offensive names,” adding “every time I see him, he comments on my race and/or color.”

Archuleta said he was the only non-white employee for the town, a fact that Williams confirmed.

In the letter of determination from the EEOC, the “harassment included frequent use of racially derogatory terms by the Mayor to include the following: ‘wetback,’ ‘n----r.’ ‘boy,’ ‘Thai boy,’ ‘Mexican’ and ‘spic.’”

In an interview in Aug. 2015, Williams denied that he had ever made any racially charged remarks to Archuleta and that the former employee’s charge of discrimination was a complete surprise.

“If I would have said anything like that, it would have been a joking manner between two individuals, but I’ve never done it in public especially…” Williams said. “If it ever happened, it happened in a one-on-one situation and I would have apologized to him if he would have ever said ‘Hey, I take this sensitive.’ I would have apologized to him immediately. It’s not my style.”

This is not the first time Williams has been under fire for potentially using racial slurs. Back in December 2013, Williams was accused of using a racial slur against a black person after an anonymous Youtube video posting claimed to have him recorded using the term. Williams denied the allegation then and it has still not been proven it was indeed his voice on the video.

“That’s the kinds of things I have dealt with because people have called me discriminatory in the past, but I don’t discriminate,” Williams said in 2015. “Nobody can ever say that I looked at them with malice in my eyes and called them a name. That’s not my style. Now I might look you in the eye and knock the [expletive deleted] out of you, but I’m not going to call you a name because I’m not stupid.”

At the time, Williams said he believed the claim was a ploy to discredit him.

“Everything goes along and it tends to get political,” Williams said. “And that’s what’s happening right now – they’re getting cronies and people to make allegations and everything to discredit the mayor and his style of leadership. And I see it – I’ve been seeing it for the last two months. They’ve been making all kinds of claims against me, but have they been able to prove one? No. Am I afraid? Hell no – I stand on my record.”

In August 2016, Williams was found guilty of discrimination by the EEOC.

Current Elberta Mayor Jim Hamby said the town was aware of the suit, but said they would not be commenting on pending litigation.