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Former VA official faces discrimination suits (UPDATE)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs was sued in federal court Wednesday over allegations that he discriminated against white employees.

The three lawsuits accuse Kenneth Black, who is African-American, of denying a promotion to one white worker, firing a second and retaliating against a third. The workers are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Black hung up Wednesday when The Associated Press asked whether he wanted to comment on the lawsuits.

The lawsuits repeat allegations that the workers made last year in complaints filed with the state.

Former DVA administrator Randall Nitchske alleged that Black fired him after Black said he wanted to purge the agency of “old white guys.” Another former DVA administrator, Gary Wistrom, said Black forced him to retire for signing an affidavit confirming Nitchske’s version of events.

Tim Donovan, a retired lieutenant colonel with the Wisconsin National Guard, accused Black of passing him over for a communications job because of Donovan’s age and race.

The Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division found probable cause to believe Black’s department may have violated Wisconsin Fair Employment Law.

Black, who was hired in 2009 and resigned in April, has denied all the claims. He said there was no link between Wistrom’s support of Nitchske and the reassignment that led to his retirement. He also denied Donovan’s allegations, saying he made needed changes in the agency.

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