GOSHEN The Orange County executive’s assistant, Justin Rodriguez, has filed a federal complaint against his former boss, Deputy Orange County Executive Harold Porr, alleging that he discriminated against him based on his national origin and ethnicity, violating both federal and state laws.
The case was brought after a county investigation by an outside legal company discovered that Porr had broken the rules prohibiting harassment and discrimination at work. The county complaint, which Rodriguez had filed in June 2022, was ruled to be established in August of the same year.
As a result, Porr lost his position as Rodriguez’s direct supervisor, although the two men are still colleagues in the county administration.
Rodriguez’s father is Puerto Rican, and his mother is Jewish. He asserts that Porr was aware of his background and made derogatory comments about him that were thinly disguised as jokes.
Plaintiff Rodriguez claims that, although being aware of his non-Judaism, Porr taunted him on multiple occasions by asking if he was heading to a synagogue or temple. Porr further asserts in the lawsuit that he called Jewish individuals—including the Hasidic Jews from Kiryas Joel who came to the office—as Rodriguez’s cousins.
According to Rodriguez’s federal lawsuit, which was filed last Friday, Porr declared in a meeting with other individuals that he would support Rodriguez for governor in 2022, making Rodriguez the first Puerto Rican Jew to hold the office.
Rodriguez lists numerous instances on which Porr made offensive comments on his Puerto Rican and Jewish heritage. Porr allegedly called Emma Fuentes, the assistant to state senator James Skoufis, Rodriguez’s cousin on one occasion just because of her Hispanic last name. In another, Porr is reported to have inquired, “Where is Diego?” in reference to Rodriguez as they entered a conference room for a staff meeting.
According to Rodriguez, Porr’s constitutional right to be free from discrimination based on his race and religion has been infringed. He is requesting that, following a jury trial, both compensatory and punitive damages be granted.