Combating workplace racism in Del.
New recommendations have been outlined by a joint coalition. Their hope is to combat racism and discrimination within government workplaces in Delaware.
The coalition includes the Interdominational Minsters Action Council (“IMAC”), the Interdominational Ministerial Alliance (“IMA”) of Dover and Vicinity, the Interdominational Faith Coalition (“IFC”) of Sussex County and local chapters of the Delaware NAACP.
“This is not a black only issue. This is a human issue”, says Reverend Christopher Curry.
The coalition says between 2012 and 2015, there were 190 discrimination charges filed by state workers against various state agencies. Only one of them was reportedly found to have cause.
Since releasing those findings last August, the group has held nine hearings in each Delaware county. People were able to come forward to share their experiences with workplace racism. These hearings have gained support by Delaware Governor Jack Markell.
Jonathan Dworkin, director of strategic communications from the office of Governor Markell, released a statement to 47ABC that said in part “The Governor has appreciated the opportunity to speak with pastors and members of the NAACP about their report and the administration’s ongoing review. He has expressed his commitment to reforming the complaint process and remains committed to addressing workplace climate for people of all backgrounds.”
Alicia Clark, an advisory consultant for IMAC, was not able to tell 47 ABC exactly how many people came forward during the nine hearings; however, Clark says just one person is enough reason for change.
“Often times what we heard were stories of “I was not promoted, I was qualified or I was more qualified for a position. It was given to a white person…I filed a complaint about it.” And then when they filed a complaint about it, then they were retaliated against.” Explains Clark.
The coalition has recommended the state is consider six courses of action:
– An investigation into the employment pattern and practices in state government.
– Proper remedial action for state employees filing complaints.
– A task force devoted to developing strategic workforce initiatives that would help remove racism in state agencies.
– Appropriation of resources from the General Assembly for an independent firm that could provide recommendations for institutional change within the Office of Management and Budget and HR department personnel.
– Review/revision of Delaware Title 19 and enforce a uniform anti-discrimination policy.
– Establishment of a Civil Rights Commission that would be charged with investigating claims of discrimination in employments, housing, public accommodations and state contracts.
Reverend Lawrence Livingston, an executive Board Member of IMAC, hopes the recommendation will lead to more accountability.
“Not one person has been reprimanded.” Says Reverend Livingston. “People are retaliated against, nothing happens. People bring grievances and complaints, nothing happens so what does a “zero tolerance” mean? And where’s the accountability for that?”
In a statement, Dworkin tells 47ABC “In every case where specific information about an employee complaint is made available to the Administration, that complaint is reviewed promptly. Discrimination is always unacceptable, and we are committed to thoroughly addressing every complaint.”
Clark says it’s important to note the coalition is not pointing fingers at anyone or any agency. They would just like to work with the state government for a path forward.
The coalition plans to meet with the Office of Management and Budget on Thursday. They will reportedly be looking at financial needs in order to move forward.