Posted by on September 18, 2023 6:40 pm
Categories: News Washington Examiner

Former ACLU employee sues organization over alleged racism, sexism

American Civil Liberties Union. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Former ACLU employee sues organization over alleged racism, sexism

Brady Knox September 18, 05:41 PM September 18, 05:41 PM Video Embed

A former employee of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the organization over alleged discrimination based on race and sex.

Monica Espitia, a woman from Colombia who emigrated to the United States, sued ACLU Hawaii this month, alleging a “pattern of discriminatory and retaliatory conducted based on race and sex,” which culminated in her firing. The 25-page lawsuit, obtained by Fox News, alleged a violation of the organization’s own code of conduct around diversity.


“In practice, however, while Plaintiff was asked to publicly hold government officials accountable to one standard regarding implicit bias, inequitable treatment, and free speech, she was required to remain silent and accept the opposite standard regarding these matters at the workplace of the ACLU-HI,” the filing stated.

Espitia worked for several different ACLU branches starting in 2005. She was hired by the organization’s Hawaii branch in 2019 as the smart justice campaign director, a position that focuses on halving incarceration and addressing alleged racial bias in the justice system.

The lawsuit alleges that Josh Wisch, a white man, accused Espitia of discriminating against white men when she chose a Native Hawaiian woman for a position over him. It also accused Wisch of redirecting funds from Espitia’s campaign budget to a cause unrelated to incarceration, then expressing a loss of confidence in Espitia’s leadership in a June 2020 diversity, equity, and inclusion meeting. A feud between the two ensued for another year, with the organization attempting mediation.

The lawsuit also alleges mistreatment on the part of Ryan Leong, who is a native Hawaiian. It alleges that Leong made Espitia perform unnecessary, tedious work and reacted by angrily cursing at her when questioned.


Soon after, it alleges that Leong turned other directors at ACLU Hawaii against Espitia, leading to her filing a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. She was fired one month later due to a “conflicted and retaliatory investigation and report” by Leong.

Espitia said that she reached out to the national ACLU twice during her last year at the organization but didn’t receive a response.

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