New Jersey-based company accused of discrimination appoints Black vice president November 3, 2006Posted by C.A.R.D in Accused, African-American, anti-black, Black, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Lawsuit, minorities, Racism, Racist, White, Women.
In the wake of an embarrassing and potentially costly lawsuit accusing it of blatant racial discrimination, New Jersey-based Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) last month announced the appointment of its first African-American senior executive in recent memory.
Rodney Dickens, 49, was named vice president of asset management and centralized services for PSE&G in early October, making him the highest-ranking Black executive at the company. Dickens will become the third man in the executive chain of command at PSE&G. Dickens has been with PSE&G—the largest provider of electrical power in the state of New Jersey for nearly 30 years.
“This is a great opportunity, and I look forward to the challenges ahead,” Dickens said recently in an interview with the AmNews. Many challenges will indeed face Dickens, as PSE&G is under fire for countless allegations of blatant acts of racial discrimination against some current and former employees.
The most recent lawsuit—filed in August in the state Superior Court of Newark, claims PSE&G “practices a widespread and consistent pattern of discrimination in the service division. In addition, the suit alleges that service requests are racially coded to ensure that Black service techs are dispatched to minority communities and white techs are sent to suburban areas.
While refusing to comment specifically about the pending litigation, Dickens said PSE&G is active in recruiting minorities and women for various positions within the company. In addition, he said finding qualified applicants for highly technical and concentrated positions can be extremely difficult.
“A lot of people don’t realize that many of the positions at the company are specialized and require [intense training],” he said. “Many employees don’t leave their positions—[turnover is low.]”
Karen Johnson, a spokesperson for PSE&G vehemently denied that the company racially coded service requests or practiced any kind of racial impunity.
“We deny the allegations and will fight these charges,” she said. “We [simply] don’t do business that way.” Johnson added that Dickens is not the first Black vice president for the company. She said there have been several, with the first one being named in 1993.
“Many of them left the company for other jobs or for personal or various other reasons,” she said.
Eric Kleiner, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said PSE&G has a history of racist and discriminatory actions. In addition, Kleiner, who is based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., said since going public with the lawsuit, he and his clients have received some “questionable” inquiries from people wanting to know more about the case.
In a brief interview with the Amsterdam News, Kleiner said, “The charges against PSE&G are substantial and could cost the company a lot of money.”
In another interesting twist, earlier this year, the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with officials at PSE&G to encourage them to do more to hire minorities and foster diversity among the ranks. At the time, Jackson said his office had received several complaints from current and former PSE&G employees alleging racial bias at all levels of the company.
PSE&G employs more than 6,200 people in New Jersey and about 10,000 in the New York/New Jersey metro area.
Source: Amsterdam News