Lawsuit: Stamford man says Black security officers faced discrimination at Greenwich High

Photo of Robert Marchant
Greenwich High School

Greenwich High School

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

GREENWICH — A Black security guard who works at Greenwich High School is suing the town and the school district over claims he has faced discrimination due to his race for over a decade.

Frederick Smith-Morton, a Stamford resident, claims in court papers that he was subjected to unfair and hostile treatment while working in security at the high school. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, alleges civil rights violations.

Smith-Morton began working at the school in 2001. After a new supervisor was placed at the high school in the 2006-07 school year, a pattern of discriminatory behavior commenced, the federal lawsuit says.

“African-American officers were given more burdensome duties and expected to deal with the cantankerous students at Greenwich High School,” the suit states. “Caucasian security officers are given more latitude and margin of error than African-American security officers. ... Smith-Morton has always been and is currently assigned a disproportionate workload.”

The lawsuit states that previously there were five Black security officers out of nine, and now there are only two. The complaint states that four Black personnel were subject to termination and disciplinary proceedings leading to resignations, while no white security officers were terminated during the same timeframe.

Work practices that white security guards were permitted to do, such as carrying out coaching-related tasks while working on the security detail, led to disciplinary actions against Smith-Morton, the complaint states.

“Caucasian officers are allowed to clock-in early, leave early, or ‘double-dip’ to accommodate their schedules,” the lawsuit said, with double-dipping referring to working security while engaged in coaching-related work.

Smith-Morton said he was reassigned to a different shift in 2017, requiring him to work into the afternoon hours. That meant he could no longer coach the junior varsity girls basketball team, leading to the loss of the stipend that accompanied it, and it also made his parenting schedule difficult, the suit states.

Smith-Morton says he filed complaints about discriminatory behavior with the town’s human resources department, but they were never investigated, the suit states.

The suit seeks unspecified compensatory damages, as well as back pay for the loss of the coaching job. The lawsuit individually names Thomas Bobkowski, director of school safety services, and Regina Williams, assistant director of human resources, as defendants in the suit.

The town administration has until late April to file a formal legal response.

A message left with Andrew McPherson, the attorney handling the suit for the town, was not returned, nor was a message left for the school district spokesperson.

The case has been assigned to Judge Stefan Underhill in the Bridgeport courthouse.