Two employees of the Lakota School District north of Cincinnati resigned after an investigation confirmed they made racially insensitive remarks about black central office officials.
Treva Whitlock, director of child nutrition, and her assistant, Linda Alfrey, resigned in May after being on administrative leave since March.
On March 12, a witness reported that Alfrey told Whitlock that a black administrator got her job “only because of the NAACP.” Whitlock covered her ears and did not respond. On March 10, Whitlock reportedly said, “Hey, you guys, we need to be more diverse. I am going to bring in some shoe polish and paint Kathy and Kim’s face(s).” Both women also habitually referred to Rhonda White, a black employee, as “Rhonda White, who isn’t.”
Some felt the women should have been fired instead of being allowed to resign with severance pay. Whitlock walked with $52,000 in cash, while Alfrey received $28,000.
It’s just the latest in a string of racial conflicts in the district this year. In March, the district suspended a teacher for sending two black students into a separate room to take a test. In December, the district received national media attention for its decision to perform “And Then There Were None,” a play with alleged racist origins.
Note: The comments by Whitlock and Alfrey are likely to fall short of what is required to establish a hostile environment in court. But, as the case reveals, the court of public opinion keeps its own standards.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Stay mum on lawsuits, complaints to cut retaliation risk
- Avoid the legal risks lurking in your job applications
- Put it in writing! Tracking discipline proves equal treatment for all
- OK to terminate disabled worker if there is no possible way to accommodate