DALLAS — A former employee of Dr. Green Services claims his boss at the lawn care company used the N-word in an email to him, according to a federal racial discrimination lawsuit.
Ryan Van Haastrecht, who is named in the lawsuit, is the president of Dr. Green and co-owns the business along with his father, according to the federal civil suit filed this week in Dallas.
Dr. Green is a business that operates lawn care and maintenance services in Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, and other Canadian cities.
On Oct. 26, 2018, Markell Selvy, who is African-American, started working at the Dallas location as a sales manager, the suit says.
Selvy was unaware that his white predecessor’s salary was significantly higher than his at the time he got hired, according to court documents.
He says during his one year working at Dr. Green, he noticed that black employees were often fired under circumstances that seemed unfair, according to documents.
The lawsuit states that on Oct. 15, 2019, Selvy's suspicions of race discrimination were confirmed in an email that he received.
According to the lawsuit, Van Haastrecht emailed Selvy with a subject line that read, “shhh.”
“Why can’t all black (N-word) work as hard as you lol…. don’t repeat this lmao," Van Haastrecht wrote in an email, according to court documents.
Van Haastrecht has not responded to a request for comment.
Two days later, on Oct. 17, Van Haastrecht sent a second email with a subject line that read "Credit Hold/Cancel."
In this email, he allegedly asked Selvy to review the credit hold accounts and cancel customers’ accounts. In that email, Van Haastrecht wrote, "you will see why I'm against Black's and Indian's neighborhoods," according to the court filing.
The day after that email was sent, Van Haastrecht allegedly asked Selvy several times if everything was OK.
The man told Van Haastrecht that he was “going through some things” due to the emails he received the days prior.
Then on Oct. 19, Selvy tried checking his email remotely using his cellphone. He says during his time working at Dr. Green he had been able to do so, documents state.
But that day, mobile access to his email had been terminated, according to the lawsuit. Selvy says in the suit that someone with administrative rights had changed his password.
Selvy’s access to his work server was also terminated, court documents state. The former employee was then “constructively discharged from his position” with the company, according to the lawsuit.
He has now filed a lawsuit against Van Haastrecht and Dr. Green. He says he suffered racial discrimination during his time with the company.
In addition, Selvy states Van Haastrecht asked him to engage in unlawful sales practices, specifically toward minority customers.
He is now seeking back and front pay and other damages and is seeking a jury trial, according to the lawsuit.
Full text of the second email sent:
"Please review the credit hold accounts as well as all cancel customers. When you look through those accounts you will see why I’m against majority Black’s and Indian’s neighborhoods, they just DOESN’T pay. I don’t want those type of customer next year. This is Lou and I company and we want to stand out and doing service in those type of neighborhoods just doesn’t work for us. Please find a solution. We HAVE to stop the cancels and make money. This is what will save your future with Dr.Green. You have to dig into our culture."