Citizen app hit with intercourse, race discrimination suit amid union battle

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Controversial public security app Citizen is going through a discrimination suit from an ex-employee, even because it wages a knock-down, drag-out battle with union organizers.

In a suit filed this week, ex-Citizen analyst Heather Bearden accused the Peter Thiel-backed crime-watch app of fostering a hostile work surroundings the place she was “verbally abused, ostracized and humiliated” by superiors based mostly on her race and sexual orientation. 

Bearden’s superiors additionally handed her over for promotions and have been faster to jot down her up for infractions as a result of she is black, Native American and homosexual, the Brooklyn resident alleged within the suit filed in Manhattan federal court docket on Tuesday.  

“She was ostracized and humiliated,” Darnisha A. Lewis-Bonilla, an legal professional for Bearden, informed The Post. “This was a result of her race and sexual orientation.” 

Additionally, Bearden claims that customers of Citizen — a public security app that sends out alerts with pictures and movies of close by fires, shootings and different emergencies — posted racist and homophobic phrases just like the phrase “f——t” on the app and referred to as for violence “including the shooting of Black people.” 

When Bearden complained concerning the disturbing content material in January 2020 and requested the company to take a “zero tolerance” perspective towards the customers who submit it, Citizen failed to handle her issues for months till ultimately implementing a hate speech coverage in June, in keeping with the suit. 

Former Citizen worker Heather Bearden says the company did not crack down on hate speech.
United States District Court

Bearden — a Brooklyn resident who made a $64,000 wage at Citizen — says she ultimately stop her job in October 2020 as a result of she was “unable to endure the discrimination and hostile work environment.” 

The company, which is headquartered in downtown Manhattan, has not but filed a authorized response to the suit, in keeping with court docket information. 

Citizen chief of workers Emily Eckert informed The Post that Citizen is “not in position to comment on particulars of ongoing litigation matters” however added that “creating a safe and diverse work environment is essential for us at Citizen.”

Bearden’s discrimination suit isn’t the one problem going through Citizen, which has courted controversy and raised $133 million in enterprise capital because it was first based as “Vigilante” in 2015. 

In September, a gaggle of Citizen staff filed with the National Labor Relations Board to carry a union election — a transfer that The Post first reported was prompted by efforts to outsource some work to abroad contractors. 

The union is being organized by way of the Communications Workers of America, which additionally represents Verizon and AT&T staff. It would principally cover staff of Citizen’s central operations division, which incorporates individuals who write alerts about emergencies based mostly on 911 calls and person experiences. 

Citizen has come out with weapons blazing in opposition to the organizing effort, blasting “meddling from an outside union” and tapping white-shoe legislation agency McDermott, Will & Emery to characterize the company in conversations with the NLRB. 

Organizers have accused Citizen of making an attempt to sabotage the union push, together with by way of unlawful “surveillance,” “threats,” and “interrogation” of staff, in keeping with NLRB filings made by Communications Workers of America legal professional Nick Hanlon. 

Citizen’s office is positioned in downtown Manhattan.
Google Maps

Union election ballots have been mailed to Citizen staff on Nov. 5 following a failed try by Citizen’s attorneys to delay the vote. Citizen had argued that holding the election by way of the mail would “disenfranchise” distant staff who may very well be touring or working remotely from places the place they received’t be capable of cast their votes.

The attorneys requested the NLRB to push again the election and mentioned it must be carried out electronically — a prospect that Hanlon blasted as “a clear attempt to impede and delay the election through the filing of frivolous briefs and appeals” in a letter to the NLRB.

The NLRB in the end rejected Citizen’s request to delay the election. Mail-in ballots have been despatched to staff final Friday and should be returned by Dec. 1, in keeping with company information. Votes shall be tallied by Dec. 17, information present.

Citizen CEO Andrew Frame
Steve Jennings

Citizen declined to touch upon the union effort. Hanlon and the Communications Workers of America didn’t reply to requests for remark.