Trial set in racial discrimination suit brought by Children’s Theater artistic director

Judge Luckey
Judge Luckey

Daily Post Staff Writer

A racial discrimination suit filed against the city by Palo Alto Children’s Theater Managing Artistic Director Judge Luckey is headed to trial in September, Luckey’s lawyer told the Post yesterday (April 24).

Luckey, 55, of San Jose, is scheduled to give a deposition when he is questioned by lawyers in advance of the trial, said his attorney, Gretchen Birkheimer.

Birkheimer told the Post in November that the suit was in mediation and may resolve shortly.

Luckey’s supervisor, Community Services Assistant Director Rhyena Halpern, will also be deposed before the Sept. 24 trial date.

Halpern and Luckey did not return requests for comment yesterday. Luckey, who is black, filed the suit on Dec. 8, 2016, alleging racial discrimination and retaliation from Halpern, who is white. He claimed that she had taken an “immediate aversion” to him and treated him differently from his white colleagues, excluding him socially and denying him opportunities that other employees in the Community Services Department were afforded.

Luckey initially acted as his own lawyer and named Halpern, who is director of the Arts and Sciences Division of the department, as a co-defendant with the city before learning that as a supervisor, she wouldn’t bear individual liability for his employment-related claims.

Birkheimer took over the case on March 30, 2017. Luckey has been working for the city since Jan. 20, 2009, and answering to Halpern since February 2013, six months after she was hired.

He claimed in the suit that Halpern met with each of her white employees for private lunches where they set their annual goals and budgets, but “systematically” failed to meet with Luckey.

Luckey said he earned a positive review for the period ending in June 2013, but that Halpern delayed giving him the review until five months later, affecting his ability to get a raise between 2013 and 2014.


  1. Racial discrimination is around and the best way to be a better judge of character of racial discrimination in the work place is to look at who that company hires. Listen to how white people talk around each other as opposed to when one of us dark people walk in the room.

    If you see 7 white women 2 black men and one Latina on a board than it’s obvious that the white women are the majority there. Is it racial discrimination? If you’re the only woman in a group of men at a Start up than guess who those men don’t want to hire? Women. Is that gender bias?

    If a white guy wants to join the nation of Islam and the nation of islam says no. would we call it racial discrimination? If a kid with a speech impediment wants to join the Toastmasters and he gets his application denied would we be all protesting about it. When does it end?

    I could say that Palo Alto Daily Post don’t print too much of my letters to the editors because they racially don’t like what I write and they prefer to always print Janice Houghs letter but that’s just my perception of what the Palo Alto Daily Post decides to print and not print. Of course as a dark person and somebody that ain’t white. I can say they are racially discriminating against me and they might not. Maybe they just don’t like what I write and that’s fair. I racially discriminate people but it’s not right but it’s best to be honest about it than to be act like you’re not and do. When white people want to discriminate they say that’s not our taregt population, we have a preference and they don’t fit the criteria. I could be wrong but I’m not white.

  2. Michael writes, “I could say that Palo Alto Daily Post don’t print too much of my letters to the editors … ” A kind suggestion Michael: Your writing might be taken more seriously by others if you used better grammar.

  3. I understand most Eastern block Countries have little knowledge that racial abuse is wrong,the UK are running specific courses to educate Eastern block citizens residing in the UK on PC.

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