Racist behavior is commonplace and encouraged by management at a Department of Homeland Security investigative office in Virginia.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said, in a decision, that the office has widespread “offensive and racially hostile behavior.”
For example, a supervisor called Black and Latino employees “monkeys,” and an agent had a racist photo on his cellphone — a Black child in a fried-chicken bucket. Numerous racial incidents are said to have occurred.
The decision, made in July, was just obtained by the Virginian-Pilot. Special Agent Albert Whitney, who is Black, filed the complaint.
However, the EEOC ruled he wasn’t a victim of the discrimination, but other Black employees were subjected to the vile behavior.
“While the complainant did not witness the racially-insensitive conduct … substantial record evidence shows that other African American employees were subject to the conduct based on their race,” the decision states.
The EEOC ruled that employees of the Norfolk office must attend racial harassment training, and that the office should possibly punish the two employees found guilty.
But the Department of Homeland Security (HSI) plans to appeal the ruling, as well as Whitney, who says, he too, experienced discrimination.
“HSI argues the EEOC has no authority to order training or posting of findings since it determined Whitney wasn’t discriminated against. And Whitney’s attorney, Neil Bonney, argues he was the victim of a hostile work environment,” the Virginian-Pilot reports.
HSI’s local office is in the Norfolk Federal Building. It is part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As with any company or organization, accountability as well as guidelines for workplace culture and environment starts at the top. Kirstjen Nielsen is the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Nielsen has been criticized for enforcement of inhumane immigration policies, mostly affecting Latino families.
In June, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) called for her to resign.
“The government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart. And the government should have a commitment to transparency and accountability,” Harris said in a statement. “Under Secretary Nielsen’s tenure, the Department of Homeland Security has a track record of neither. As a result, she must resign.”
Nielsen has defended the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separates children from their families at the border.