The old family maintenance business of 8th Congressional candidate Paul Junge paid out $100,000 to three former workers who claimed they were insulted with numerous racial slurs at the workplace and were fired when they complained about it, according to court records.
The revelation comes as Junge has made one of his calling cards during the campaign how his family business created “hundreds of jobs.”
Junge was the business development and division manager at All Star Maintenance in San Diego, Calif., his father’s business from 1995-2000, and is not mentioned directly in the suit involving three former employees, Warren McCowan, Johnny Luna and Steve Guerrero.
The suit in U.S. District Court in New Mexico was concluded in 2002 after Junge had left the business to pursue a career in TV journalism. However, back in 1998, All Star Maintenance was hired to paint residences at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
McCowan, Luna and Guerrero, all of Hispanic heritage but who lived in New Mexico, claimed they were fired for complaining about the discrimination they endured while working in the hostile environment.
They claimed they were “repeatedly” referred to by one All Star Maintenance carpenter as “sp*cs,” “stupid fucking Mexicans,” “burrito eating mother fuckers,” and “south-of-the-border friends.” Another All Star employee on the job site referred to an African American colleague as a “stupid (n-word).” Others testified that they, too, heard the offensive language.
Although the All Star employee handbook from 1996 calls for a racial harassment-free workplace, the field manager conceded in court that he didn’t do enough to spot the offensive comments. Instead, when McCowan, Luna and Guerrero complained, he fired them, according to court records.
As a result, the court in 2002 ordered that all three be paid $15,000 for enduring the hostile work environment and $20,000 each for being fired for complaining. All Star later paid out another $100,000 later to cover the former employees’ attorney fees.
Republicans could question the relevance of the charge seeing Junge’s debatable connection to an event that happened 22 years ago. They could note that, for example, that incumbent U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, worked for the CIA when it was allegedly waterboarding detainees.
“Paul had no knowledge of this incident, or even the court case until a reporter brought it to his intention,” a Junge campaign spokesperson said. “Paul opposes racial discrimination of any kind, and believes we must come together as a nation to confront not only bigotry and hate, but also the violent riots that have perverted the cause of equality.”
However, it’s Junge who brought up his family company’s prolific job-creating record into the debate. In fact, Junge’s first TV advertisement leads with this.
“I’m Paul Junge. I served as a prosecutor and helped build my family’s business, creating jobs” are the first words Junge says in the ad.
Democrats could argue that if the Republican nominee wants to own All Star’s record, he’s got to take the bad with the good.
The court case had yet to make the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s research book on Junge that MIRS found online. A DCCC spokesperson declined to comment on the settlement.
Speaking of the TV ads, Junge made a $100,000 buy this week to air his positive, get-to-know-you, 30-second spot in the Detroit and Lansing broadcast and cable markets.
His press release includes this jab at the first-term incumbent: “These are challenging times, and unlike Elissa Slotkin’s partisan liberal record of voting with Nancy Pelosi 96% of the time, I will put politics aside and put America first.”
By comparison, Slotkin, has $3.2 million in ad time reserved up for the remainder of the election, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. She announced her second General Election ad over the weekend, which focused on her efforts to produce personal protection medical equipment in Michigan.
(Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is at firstname.lastname@example.org.)