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In the Media: DeRay McKesson Joins City Schools Cabinet; EEOC Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case

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A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Civil rights activist DeRay McKesson to join new city schools cabinet

"Civil rights activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate DeRayMckesson will return to his old stamping grounds at city school headquarters to lead the district's office of human capital.

"Mckesson was named interim chief human capital officer on Tuesday by incoming schools CEO Sonja Santelises. It was the second and most high-profile cabinet appointment made by the new chief, who begins her tenure Friday.

"Santelises said Mckesson, who spent about two and a half years overseeing key reforms as a strategist and special assistant in the human capital office, would lead the office at least through the fall.

"'He has the depth of knowledge of the system, and he has proved that he can lift the work in a short amount of time,' Santelises said in an interview. 'And he has proven his dedication to the children of Baltimore.'

"Mckesson called Santelises a 'gifted leader' and said he was proud to join her team.

"'At its core, this role is about finding great people, matching them to the right role, and helping them to develop and experience careers in the service of our kids,' Mckesson said. 'I am excited to return to city schools … and to continue doing the work to ensure that every child in Baltimore City receives a world-class education.'

"The 30-year-old Baltimore native and Black Lives Matter activist is fresh from an unexpected run for mayor of Baltimore. He finished sixth in the Democratic primary.

"Mckesson catapulted onto the national media stage nearly two years ago when he took a leave of absence from his job as senior director of human capital in the Minneapolis Public Schools system to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

"Mckesson founded and leads We the Protesters, a group that advocates policy changes against police violence.

"Mckesson, who will earn a salary of $165,000, will be the district's third chief of human capital in two years, and manage of a budget of $4 million and 56 employees.

"In a release, school officials said they would conduct a nationwide search for a new chief of human capital. The current interim head of the department, Deborah Sullivan, will return to her former position as executive director of organizational development.

"He is the second cabinet appointment for Santelises. In May, she announced that Alison Perkins-Cohen, currently an executive director of new initiatives, will serve as her chief of staff and earn a salary of $178,500."

Full Article

From the Baltimore Sun: EEOC Settles precedent-setting sexual orientation discrimination case in Baltimore

"In a landmark discrimination case, a packaging manufacturer will pay $202,200 to settle allegations that a lesbian employee was harassed because of her sexual orientation and fired from the Baltimore facility where she worked after reporting the behavior.

"Pallet Companies, which does business as IFCO Systems, will pay $182,200 to the employee, Yolanda Boone, and donate $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's workplace equality program to settle the discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"In a statement following the settlement, IFCO denied any wrongdoing and said it is pleased with the outcome of the case.

"'The allegations in the EEOC's complaint do not reflect Pallet Companies' culture and its core values,' the company said in a statement. 'Rather than litigate with the EEOC, we looked at ways we could enhance our pre-existing commitment to a productive and discrimination-free workplace.'

"The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore in March, alleged that Boone was repeatedly harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation, with comments such as 'I want to turn you back into a woman.' The supervisor also allegedly made sexually suggestive gestures to her.

"Boone was fired days after reporting the harassment to management, according to the lawsuit.

"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion — but not sexual orientation. The commission argued that harassment based on sexual orientation is covered under the prohibition against discrimination based on sex.

"The suit against Pallet was among the first sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits filed by the EEOC, which enforces federal workplace anti-discrimination laws. The commission also sued Pittsburgh-area Scott Medical Health Center in March over alleged harassment of a gay employee.

"'EEOC is committed to ensuring that individuals are not subjected to discriminatory treatment in workplaces based on their sexual orientation and looks forward to the day that this fundamental right is widely recognized,' David Lopez, the EEOC's general counsel, said in a statement.

"Maryland is among at least 30 states that prohibit at least some employers from discriminating against at least some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the workplace, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Hundreds of companies have adopted their own policies.

"As a condition of the settlement, IFCO agreed to strengthen its discrimination policies.

"The company will retain an expert on sexual orientation and gender identity to develop a training program for IFCO employees, including managers and supervisors. The company also agreed to distribute its employment opportunities policies, hotline number and website to employees. IFCO will post a notice about the settlement and report back to EEOC about how it handles any complaints of sexual orientation discrimination.

"Equal rights leaders praised the settlement as precedent-setting in protecting workers from being discriminated against because of sexual orientation."

Full Article

From the Washington Post: Hogan says he’ll keep fighting Democrats over funding road projects

"Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Tuesday night that he plans to continue to fight the Democratic-controlled legislature over the funding of transportation road projects and enlisted the help of local elected officials to join him.

"During a 10-minute address before a crowd of about 700 people attending a dinner at the Maryland Municipal League Convention in Ocean City, Hogan said 'we can not and will not let' the General Assembly hinder road and bridge repairs.

“'We’re going to keep fighting to make sure these priority road projects in every jurisdiction continue to move forward,' Hogan said. 'But we need our municipal and our county officials, each and every one of you, to stand with us so our roads and highways don’t go back down a path of neglect and under investment.'

"Hogan and the General Assembly have been in a protracted battle over how transportation funds should be spent.

"Last year, the governor killed the Red Line rail project affecting Baltimore City and Baltimore County and slashed the state’s share of the costs of the Purple Line in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. During the same transportation announcement, Hogan increased the amount of funding for repairing roads.

"This year, the General Assembly responded by overturning the governor’s veto of a bill that requires the state to score transportation projects before choosing which plans to fund.

"Hogan’s speech, which included jabs at the legislature and chest pounding over the state’s improvements in job creation, was his first address as governor to an audience at the Maryland Municipal League Convention."

Full Article