Man suing feds over firing for racist lettersA man fired by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency after he sent letters with racist comments to hundreds of college students has filed a lawsuit, saying the agency violated his free speech rights.
FARGO (AP) — A man fired by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency after he sent letters with racist comments to hundreds of college students has filed a lawsuit, saying the agency violated his free speech rights.
Customs and Border Protection officials ended Douglas Sczygelski’s internship last April. The agency said his letters violated its standards of conduct. He said he wrote the letters outside of work and did not send them to anyone at work.
Sczygelski said in his lawsuit that derogatory comments about a racial group are not forbidden by the agency’s conduct standards for employees.
He said he complied with a supervisor’s order in January to stop sending the letters, but he still was fired in April.
Court documents said Sczygelski sent hundreds of letters to students at Ohio State, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Rhode Island saying that “on average, blacks are less intelligent than whites.”
Many of the letters were sent to Ohio State University residence halls over the past two years. The most recent letters were sent in November.
“We do not know why the sender is targeting Ohio State, but the letters appear to be addressed at random and not intended for specific individuals,” the school said in a letter to students in one dormitory.
Ohio State University President Gordon Gee told students that federal officials had required the school to deliver the letters to students, and that he condemned “the letter’s ignorant and offensive message.”
“I am utterly convinced that we do not tolerate racism here. We are, quite simply, better than that,” Gee wrote in a message to students.
Federal officials are seeking to dismiss Sczygelski’s lawsuit.