CHICAGO (CBS)–Three weeks before Election Day, Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker is being sued by campaign staffers who filed a federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination–allegations Pritzker was quick to deny.
The timing of the lawsuit–filed by 11 black and latino staffers on Tuesday–comes during the final stretch of the bitter Illinois governor’s race between Pritzker and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In the lawsuit, Pritzker is accused of herding black and latino staffers into race-specific positions where they were expected to interact with the public and were offered no chance for advancement, the lawsuit says. The plaintiffs also claim they received less-favorable treatment than their white colleagues.
“Horrible things happened to them,” said Shay Allen, the attorney hired by the group of staffers suing Pritzker. Allen said requests to leave work early or remotely were denied, among other stipulations the workers had put requests in for.
In response to the allegations, Pritzker’s campaign Wednesday produced a portion of a letter from the plaintiffs’ attorneys dated in early October that asks for $7.5 million.
Pritzker’s running mate, Juliana Stratton, said the letter was motivated by money.
Allen confirmed the letter.
“What kind of price can you put on someone’s dignity?” Allen said.
After Pritzker flat-out denied the claims made in the lawsuit, Rauner was more than happy to fan the flames, calling the allegations “serious.”
But when reporters asked Rauner how many minority staffers he employed, he said he doesn’t know and that it “doesn’t matter.”
“I don’t know the exact number,” Rauner said. “The point is not staff, it’s results for families–we’ve driven results.”