Bullitt jailer sued by former employee for hostile racial environment

Paul Watkins speaks at a Bullitt County candidates forum
Paul Watkins speaks at a Bullitt County candidates forum(WAVE)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 4:28 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A former employee of the Bullitt County Detention Center is now suing jailer Paul Watkins and the county, alleging a racially hostile work environment at the jail.

Former Bullitt County Deputy Jailer Anthony Maddox said he was forced to quit after being subjected to racism.

Maddox said Watkins paraded him around as his “Black friend,” causing other jail employees to call him “Uncle Tom” and other racially-charged names.

He quit after Watkins was caught on camera making racist and sexist comments.

“When the video came out, that just totally destroyed me, and there’s no way that I can go back and work for him,” Maddox said.

Maddox said when he heard Watkins using the “n-word,” and said there’s a difference between a “Black man” and an “n-word,” he was sick.

“To see it without the guy trying to hide it, or anything, it just ripped me apart man,” Maddox said. “It’s like now I’m so numb, I’m sick and I don’t know if I’ve been traumatized by it, I don’t know.”

The recording was published after Maddox and two other Black jail employees had been invited to a republican fundraiser by Watkins. Maddox said he felt forced to go to keep his job, and was humiliated.

“I felt like he was using me for show,” Maddox said.

Maddox’s lawyer, Bo Bolus, said he’s never seen worse behavior from an elected official.

“In my 30-year career, I have not seen, not drafted a more damning indictment of a racist public official who needs to go,” Bolus said.

Bolus included other lawsuits as evidence, where Watkins or other employees called Black employees racially charged names. Bolus said they want to see Watkins removed from office.

“He seems like he doesn’t care if it’s a female, African American, or homosexual, regardless there’s got to be a way to get rid of this guy,” Bolus said.

WAVE tried calling multiple numbers associated with Watkins from his office to his cell phone.

All his voicemails were full and he did not respond to a text message.

Bullitt County said it hasn’t been served with the lawsuit yet.

Watkins is up for reelection in the May primary.

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WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)

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