WCP | DC Housing Authority Director Tyrone Garrett Named In New Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Editor’s Note: As a women of color, the allegations outlined in this lawsuit offend me on so many levels but unfortunetly they do not shock me. I know because I have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace and I know what it is like when you are sounding the alarms and no one will listen or act. Why does it feel like nothing is really being done to stop this type of behavior, especially when the victims are black?! Why does it feel like black women are being asked to sacrifice our dignity and self-respect in order to maintain the status quo, funding or prestige of the very institutions and organizations that will not invest the time and energy to protect as at work?

I am tired of women, especially women of color being devalued in the workplace.
I am tired of women, especially women of color having to choose a job over safety.
I am tired of women, especially women of color being ignored (or marginalized) by an outdated power structure where only men can determine what constitutes “harassment” to a woman.

I’m just tired.
Maybe it will take exposing more of these allegations (especially those involving women of color) in order to bring this issue front and center and hold the people and organizations that make it a priority.

Maybe the day is today.

Photo Credit: Darrow Montgomery, Washington City Papeer

Photo Credit: Darrow Montgomery, Washington City Papeer

A spokesperson for the Long Branch Housing Authority did not immediately respond to City Paper’s request for comment.

Through a spokesperson, Garrett sent City Paper the following emailed statement: “People deserve to work and live in supportive, safe environments. I have championed policies and practices that advance the highest of these standards. I do not condone nor tolerate hostile working or residential environments. I have, and always will, demand that all employees are held accountable for their actions—and those that are inconsistent with policies, anti-discrimination laws and regulations will be handled in accordance with the policies consistent with human dignity and respect.”

The employees claim that Garrett “was fully aware of […] Gibson’s conduct and purposely looked the other way,” and that he “failed to take any steps in stopping [Gibson’s] unlawful conduct or taking any remedial measures to address the hostile and unsafe work environment.” The lawsuit further alleges that the Authority fostered a “retaliatory and hostile working environment.”

One plaintiff alleges that Gibson held her over a toilet and attempted to rape her, firing her shortly after the attack. Others allege that he offered them money for sex, made lewd comments about their bodies, and bought them underwear, among a string of other similar complaints.

The Park Press also reports that the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights investigated LBHA in 2016 and found that the Authority “failed to maintain adequate anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies under the state’s Law Against Discrimination.”

Garrett began working at the Long Branch Housing Authority in 2001, and became the director of the DC Housing Authority in the fall of 2017.