New Jersey’s head of civil rights has been accused of discriminating against black employees by deliberately promoting whites, Latinos and gays ahead of them.

The Division on Civil Rights director, Frank Vespa-Papaleo is cited in a lawsuit from his assistant director, Philip Freeman, who claims he was harassed because he is black and straight.

Mr Freeman is suing the state of New Jersey for “continuing violation of the New Jersey law against discrimination,” according to the Star-Ledger.

The paper claims to have seen a memo from the complainant describing Mr Vespa-Papaleo as a “white Latino who is perceived to be gay” who reassigned his jobs to “white, Latino and gay lesbian employees.”

He added, “Other African-Americans have been similarly denied salary increases, and have been subjected to disparate treatment.”

Mr Vespa-Papaleo is widely credited for providing better facilities for the disabled and housing provisions for minorities. He and the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.

Two other black employees have previously filed lawsuits against the civil rights head, these cases are so far unresolved.