Community Group, NAACP Allege Racial Discrimination Among State - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Community Group, NAACP Allege Racial Discrimination Among State Employees

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In report, more than 100 people allege racial discrimination in the workplace (Source: Summary of Findings Report) In report, more than 100 people allege racial discrimination in the workplace (Source: Summary of Findings Report)
Data shows the breakdown of complaint (Source: Summary of Findings Report) Data shows the breakdown of complaint (Source: Summary of Findings Report)

DELAWARE - The NAACP, along with the Interdenominational Minsters Action Council of New Castle County, has alleged rampant racial discrimination among Delaware state employees. The groups released a report on Wednesday that showed that over 100 employees have come forward, alleging mistreatment on the job. 

"I was shocked..." said Jane Hovington, The President of the Lower Sussex NAACP. "In 2015, people are still being subjected to open racism."

According to a summary of the report, obtained by WBOC, the alleged discrimination varied greatly: 

- Hostile Work Environment: 26% of total complaints

- Recruitment, Hiring, Promotion: 24% of total complaints 

- Racial Discrimination: 18% of total complaints

- Retaliation: 17% of total complaints

- Disciplinary Action: 16% of total complaints

Hovington said that the alleged offenses have been "widespread" across the state, but that the results were especially troubling for Sussex County, because there was a culture of silence.

"In southern Delaware people don't speak out," she said. "They don't complain. They're complacent. They accept what's happening and continue to move on. 'Life goes on. I have to live. I have to eat.'"

The summary paints a picture of the more egregious situations. One employee wrote of offensive language used in the workplace, after President Obama was reelected in 2012.

"One of my co-workers (white male) was speaking to another employee (white male) about the election," the employee wrote. "I heard him say, 'You know that monkey made it there,' This type of stuff happens in the workplace all the time."

Another employee wrote of when a co-worker placed an Aunt Jemima cookbook on their desk, called, "You've had the worst things in your mouth." 

"I asked him why did he do that," the person wrote. "He laughed and said it was a joke." 

On Wednesday, the report was given to Gov. Jack Markell, who held a closed-door meeting with the advocates to discuss. Markell asked for a couple of weeks to digest the report, before any action would be taken. 

"The governor continues to be committed to giving this issue the attention it deserves," said Jonathon Dworkin, from Markell's office. "He appreciated the opportunity to have a discussion with pastors and members of the NAACP about their report and the administration's ongoing review. It included a conversation about improving the complaints process. He expects to continue the dialogue." 

The report offers six new recommendations:

- "Request the U.S. Department of Justice Employment Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division launch an investigation into employment patterns and practices in state government."

"Prompt remedial action for state employees filing retaliation complaints."

"Appropriation of resources from the General Assembly and the Executive Branch for comprehensive Human Resource Management assessment of the Office of Management & Budget and HR department personnel by an independent firm." 

"Creation of a Task Force by January 2016 to continue the work of implementing the outlined recommendations and developing strategic workforce initiatives to eradicate racism in state agencies."

"Creation of a uniform anti-discrimination state policy such as New Jersey's Policy." 

"Review and revise Delaware Title 19 Labor/Employment Practices statue." 

For the full description of their recommendations, you can get the summary of the report here.

Rep. Ruth Briggs King, who represents the Georgetown area, said that something needs to be done to address the allegations.

"When I read this," she said, "I think it's symptomatic of some bigger issues...I think it calls for a more in-depth look at the culture that's being done - the culture that's being created." 

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