One of the highest-ranking black executives in Los Angeles County government sued the county and several of its officials Monday, alleging that he was victimized by racial discrimination and denied job benefits.
In a federal lawsuit asking $1 million in damages, Edgar H. Hayes, director of the Data Processing Department, charged that top county officials had sought to discredit him and undermine his authority as part of a "longstanding practice, custom and usage of limiting" the opportunities of black county employees.
Hayes, one of three black department heads in the county, took the unusual step of filing a lawsuit against the county after claiming that Chief Administrative Officer Richard B. Dixon had frustrated his efforts to run the Data Processing Department and had subjected him to "abusive and vulgar comments."
He also claimed that he was threatened and discriminated against by Dixon's predecessor, James C. Hankla, and was denied normal "job perks" shared by other department heads, including equal automobile privileges. Hayes also said his $79,642-a-year salary was less than those of other department heads and of deputies in his own department.
Dixon described Hayes' salary as "just above the median" for county department heads. County records show that two deputies in the data-processing agency are paid more than Hayes.