What if Microsoft fired its head software tester for finding a bug in a program? The jilted employee would probably resent being canned for doing his job--shoring up the company's product.

That's exactly how the former affirmative-action director for the Seattle School District feels. John Yasutake claims in a July 6 federal lawsuit that the district discriminated and retaliated against him for doing his job too well. (Yasutake also thinks it didn't help that he's Japanese.)

Yasutake's job was to make sure the district complied with civil rights laws, like Title VII of the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act and state laws against discrimination and sexual harassment. Apparently his supervisors thought he was doing his job well. According to Yasutake's complaint, he consistently got high marks on his employee evaluations between 1988 to 1998.

However, on July 1, 1998, after years of glowing reviews, Yasutake received his first negative job-performance rating. He argues that district officials were pissed at him for constantly hounding them to treat people fairly; in short, "for having opposed discrimination within the district."

A second negative review called for the district to fire Yasutake. Yasutake contested this review, and the district put him on probation instead. But this was a limited victory, and the situation continued to get worse. According to Yasutake's lawsuit, the district took away his health-insurance coverage, the company car used for civil rights investigations, and Yasutake's secretary. At the same time, Yasutake claims, his boss weighed him down with an additional and distracting workload.

After two years of fighting with the district's human resources department for his job, Yasutake finally quit. Now he's suing for an undisclosed amount of money to cover lost wages and benefits, emotional damages, and attorneys' fees.

The district denies Yasutake's charges, noting that the human resources director who gave him bad reviews is black. "This is an organization that values diversity," says school district spokesperson Lynn Steinberg. "We are in compliance with all laws that govern affirmative action." Steinberg says they haven't hired a permanent replacement for Yasutake yet.