The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta claims city officials used and permitted racial slurs and jokes in the workplace and threatened and belittled minority workers.
Willie Smith, Stanley Mitchell and Gary Redd filed the lawsuit against the city, including the mayor, city manager, human resources director, a city councilman and four others. Two of the plaintiffs are black; the other is Korean. All of the defendants are white.
The plaintiffs say they complained on several occasions to management about the alleged discrimination, but say the complaints were not investigated.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Mitchell continue to work for the city's public works department. Mr. Redd was fired last year.
The lawsuit outlines numerous instances of alleged racism dating back to at least 1996, when the plaintiffs say hangman's nooses were found in two city trucks. Also alleged in the suit:
- A "Whites Only" sign was placed on a bathroom door.
- A picture depicting the Confederate battle flag with a watermelon slice was displayed in the breakroom.
- Racist e-mails were sent among city officials, including depictions of a "ghetto wedding" and a link to an online video game involving the shooting and killing of Hispanics.
The plaintiffs have also filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which conducts federal investigations on such cases.