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Legislator Accused Of Racial Bias August 8, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Accused, Bias, Black, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Delaware State University, Discrimination, DSU, Jeffrey Martin, Legislator, Racial, Richard C. Cathcart, Rory Lewis, White, Wilmington.

A white state legislator who works for Delaware State University promoted a white employee over a qualified black employee, a federal lawsuit against the historically black school alleges.

Associate Vice President for Business Services Richard C. Cathcart recommended the white employee be promoted despite having disciplined him on multiple occasions, according to the lawsuit that DSU facilities employee Rory Lewis filed last week in U.S. District Court in Wilmington.

Cathcart serves in the state House representing the 9th District. He is running for re-election.

According to the lawsuit, the school didn’t advertise a facilities shop leader position when it opened in 2004 and then overlooked Lewis, who had the necessary qualifications, because he is black.

Before filing the federal suit, Lewis took his complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigated his claims and ruled in his favor in November.

Cathcart referred questions about the suit to DSU spokesman Carlos Holmes. Holmes said neither he nor any DSU employee could comment on personnel matters.

But, according to court documents, DSU has denied the accusations, saying the white employee’s reassignment was not a promotion and he was chosen for the job based on merit.

Jeffrey Martin, one of Lewis’ attorneys, said it seems ironic that the claim would arise at DSU, a historically black institution. But he is not surprised.

“Racial discrimination persists, I think, in all sectors of employment,” he said. “This is really a sad, sad thing and we are confronting it more than we should be.”

Lewis, the suit claims, was well-qualified for the position of shop leader. In his first year on the job as a maintenance mechanic and carpenter, he was nominated for “Facilities Employee of the Year.” He has no disciplinary record, the suit claims.

Two months after Lewis was hired, white co-worker Charles Dougherty was promoted from trade helper to the same maintenance-mechanic position as Lewis.

In that role, Dougherty received written reprimands for missed time at work and insubordination. He also was suspended for misuse of a company vehicle, the suit claims.

When his suspension ended, Dougherty was promoted and given a 7 percent raise, the suit claims.

Dougherty, who no longer works at DSU, said Friday the work environment at DSU was racially charged. But he didn’t recall any incidents of discrimination.

Cathcart allegedly recommended Dougherty for the position without advertising it to other qualified employees, the suit claims.

Chuck Jackson, then acting assistant director of facilities, told Lewis that Dougherty got the promotion because he was white, the suit claims. Lewis then filed the discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Joseph Hardiman, area director for the Pittsburgh Area Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said attempts to reach a resolution between Lewis and DSU were unsuccessful.

Lori Brewington, Lewis’ other attorney, said it is disappointing that a supervisor would make a recommendation based on race instead of merit.

“What Dick Cathcart did was assign the position to someone who isn’t qualified, in our opinion,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, in a situation like this, where an African-American employee was denied an opportunity.”

Source: Delaware Online

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