New Allegations of Racial Mistreatment in City's Water Management Department Raise Old Concerns | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Allegations of Racial Mistreatment in City's Water Management Department Raise Old Concerns

Posted by on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 11:27 AM

flag_77w110h.gif

In 2014, allegations of employee mistreatment and racial disparities in  the Durham’s water management department were first brought to light when a group of former employees, who said they were wrongly terminated or disciplined while working for the city, went to the Human Relations Commission. The HRC then spent months investigating the department, including interviewing former employees and having former employees come speak to the commission.

In November 2015 the HRC sent nine recommendations to the city council and city manager, which included requiring racial equity training, a review of disciplinary action, and increasing the scope and accessibility of the city’s grievance policy. Then, in January 2016, city manager Tom Bonfield responded to each of the nine recommendations.   

Since then, there have been quarterly reports from the human resources department; those reports haven’t found any “inconsistent application of disciplinary actions.” From January to July there were twenty-four technical review submissions received by the HR department. Of those, ten employees disciplined (about 42 percent of the reviews) were black, and fourteen (about 58 percent of reviews) were white. Deputy city manager Bo Ferguson says the HR department must “concur with whatever discipline that has been recommended” but also provide an analysis of the discipline. That analysis allows the city to see if there have been any trends. So far, Ferguson says, the reviews have not found any inconsistencies.

Now, two years after that initial complaint, a new letter has surfaced that says things aren’t getting any better.


The new allegations, from an August 12, 2016, letter anonymously sent to the city and obtained by the INDY, does not name any specific members of the department. The letter writer said the department is an “unfair, hostile work environment” and the employees are under a “tremendous amount of stress.”


“The issues in the Department of Water Management are in all areas, not just one particular area. There are certain Upper Management employees who are slandering employee’s [sic] names, credibility and work ethic in meetings, e-mails, or in the office,” the letter continues.


Because there are no specific allegations, it’ll be difficult for the the city to pinpoint their source. Even though there are no specifics, the letter does allege that management “has been shuffling employees around from different positions across the entire department and keeping write ups in house as a way to keep the write ups out of Human Resources as not to create a paper trail to document employees so when they actually terminate the employee they will not have a paper trail.”


Ferguson says that, “regardless of what the data was telling us,” there were continued concerns about mistreatment, so the city has begun implicit bias training within the department. The department is also seeking to hire more diverse employees.


“The department is continuing to report out to its employees to increase diversity to recruit [from places] where we have a higher likelihood to get a diverse candidate pool,” Ferguson says. “We were certainly concerned and upset to get the anonymous letter. [But], at this time, it doesn’t appear to line up with the data.”



Tags: , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

@ Hunter23 "A combination of investors and loans" is not specific, and nowhere in the article is the phrase "private …

by RJO_III on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

The article clearly states the building would be privately funded with the state/local gov pitching in for infrastructure enhancement. The …

by Hunter23 on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

Most Recent Comments

@ Hunter23 "A combination of investors and loans" is not specific, and nowhere in the article is the phrase "private …

by RJO_III on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

The article clearly states the building would be privately funded with the state/local gov pitching in for infrastructure enhancement. The …

by Hunter23 on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

I truly admire the passion and support the message. But it seems standing on an overpass during rush hour traffic …

by Diane Alenezi on High Above I-40, Protesters Call for "Health Care 4 All" (News)

This will turn the Mordecai neighborhood & surrounding neighborhoods (one of the only places in downtown Raleigh with any character …

by RJO_III on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

Oh Leanne, don't you know the GA laid them all off? And that people always crap on their own public …

by biIIy on North Carolina FC and John Kane Want to Put a Big Ol' Soccer Stadium in Downtown Raleigh (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation