Former McLean County Health Department spokesman speaks out about suing county for ‘unlawful discrimination’

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MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — A former McLean County Health Department spokesperson is now getting ready for a legal battle with the county. Dion McNeal claims he’s the victim of discrimination and racism in the workplace.

McNeal filed a 13-count lawsuit on Sunday accusing the county board, the board of health, and some city officials of unlawful actions based on race.

“I’m not trying to be some superhero,” said McNeal.. “I’m not trying to be some martyr in this case, I am just trying to express my experience.”

His experience turned sour when he sent a press release to members of the media last June, calling racism and police brutality a public health crisis.

He claims his supervisor approved the release, but asked him to get additional feedback from a separate administrator. Despite that administrator having a problem with the language, McNeal posted it anyway.

“He was told to send it to someone for a specific purpose,” said Nina Gougis, McNeal’s lawyer. “He was not told that he had to report to this person, or incorporate all of her changes.”

In the days following the post, McNeal was told he was relieved of most of his duties in the office. That’s when, lawyer Nina Gougis says, McNeal issued an 8-page public statement detailing why he felt this was an act of racism in the workplace.

Following the publication of that statement he was notified that he was officially terminated.

“You have Mr. McNeal, and then you also have a white female employee,” said Gousis. “Both of them issued public statements. Mr. McNeal was terminated, whereas this other employee wasn’t. There really is not a good reason for that, and the only reasonable thing that you can come to, is that it is because of Mr. McNeal’s race and gender.”

She says McNeal is not looking to get his job back, he’s just trying to share his story. However, the lawsuit also asks for monetary damages from the county.

WMBD has reached out to the county board, the health department, and the officials named in the lawsuit none of them have responded.

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