The PA Agengy That Handled Employment Discrimination is Charged With Employment Discrimination!
The Pennsylvania agency that handles discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and property issuesis finding itself the target of a federal discrimination lawsuit. Attorney Kathryn L. Waters is claiming she was denied the agency’s top executive post because she is black.
Waters is seeking $581,941 in damages after the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a letter finding there is “reasonable cause” for Waters to pursue her discrimination claim against the Human Relations Commission.
Waters alleges she should have been chosen for the position of executive director in mid-2011. Instead, the commission chose a white woman, JoAnn L. Edwards of Lebanon, a veteran human relations executive in the nonprofit sector.
In her lawsuit Waters claims she was better qualified for the job and that the Human Relations Commission’s decision not to hire her was in violation of her civil rights.
Waters filed the lawsuit after the commission refused to negotiate with her about the discrimination claims. She is representing herself in the lawsuit and has asked the judge presiding over the case, Judge Yvette Kane to allow her to proceed under pauper status. Waters’ only income is from working at a Harrisburg day care center.
The EEOC did, however deny her allegation that she had been discriminated against when she was not hired for a special assistant job at the Human Relations Commission in November 2011, noting the hiring for that job was based on rankings devised by a colorblind computer program.
However, the executive director position hiring was based on recommendations of a search committee that considered 60 candidates. Waters claims the hiring committee improperly lowered her ranking among those candidates from the No. 2 spot to the No. 4 spot. At that point the agency officials decided to consider only the top three applicants for the second round of employment interviews.
Water alleges Edwards was originally ranked fourth on the candidate list. The EEOC found that, while the commission claimed Edwards scored highest in an evaluation of the three finalists, another black woman actually ranked higher by the search committee, but was not hired. The EEOC also concluded that Waters’ qualifications for the executive director job actually did exceed Edwards’ qualifications.
EEOC Concluded Race Discrimination Not a Factor in Commission’s Hiring
The EEOC concluded the Human Relation Commission’s claim that race was not a factor in Edwards’ hiring “does not withstand scrutiny” and that there are grounds to believe that discrimination might have occurred. The EEOC also denied a Human Relation Commission request that the EEOC reconsider its finding in the Waters case and urged the matter be resolved through a conciliation process.
The matter was referred to the U.S Department of Justice, which sent Waters a letter stating that it would not file a lawsuit over the dispute but she had a right to file her own lawsuit under the federal Civil Rights Act. The letter also stated “This should not be taken to mean that the Department of Justice has made a judgment as to whether or not your charge is meritorious.”
Peter K. Levine
A Professional Law Corporation