A man who was formerly employed by Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department has filed a federal civil rights suit against the city and various other individuals over claims that he was denied the ability to return to his job after his resignation because he previously had sued the city over allegations similar to those in the present action.

Ralph P. Blakney, who is African-American, alleges in his complaint that despite a city civil service regulation requiring that an employee who had resigned his position with the city may be reinstated within one year of the resignation to any similar type of position, he was never hired back because of a prior complaint of race discrimination.

The record shows that Blakney, who was hired in 1988 to be the director of the Older Adult Center, which falls under the auspices of the Parks and Recreation Department, resigned in January 2011, which was about two-and-a-half years after he filed a complaint of race discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Blakney later filed suit at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is also where the present action was filed on Nov. 8.

On Sept. 22, 2011, the plaintiff’s previous civil action in the federal court ended, and four days later, Blakney demanded reinstatement to his employment with the city.

The city, while aware of the plaintiff’s desire to return to his job, ended up filling Blakney’s previous position with another applicant, the suit states.

The complaint alleges that Blakney was denied job reinstatement in retaliation for pursuing the prior race discrimination claim against the city.

The lawsuit accuses the city of violating the plaintiff’s civil rights along with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

In addition to the city, the other defendants named in the lawsuit are Linda Turner, the director of human resources for the Parks and Recreation Department, and Lynn Spiro, the city’s director of Older Adult Services.

There are also 10 John Does named as defendants, who are identified as officials with the Parks and Recreation Department.

Blakney is being represented by Philadelphia lawyer Olugbenga O. Abiona.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-06300-RB. 

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