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DOCC not responsible for employees’ racist remarks

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

A court has ruled that the Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections (DOCC) did more than enough to address two employees’ complaints about civil rights violations.

DOCC probation officers Kimii Porter and Cassandra Jackson sued the county after Jackson received an anonymous letter through interoffice mail that read, in part, “You black staff here in the county take advantage of your positions. Most of you don’t deserve to even be here.” It went on to criticize several black members of the staff.

Jackson’s supervisor merely told her, “Don’t take it personal.” But DOCC Manager Dennis Avery was far less sanguine. He launched an investigation to identify the sender, including a search of all DOCC computers. He sent e-mails admonishing staff that he had “no tolerance for hateful or racially motivated behavior of any kind,” and reiterated the county’s nondiscrimination policy.

He later held a divisionwide meeting on racism and respect in the workplace and formed a diversity committee to instigate “dialogue sessions” on tolerance and diversity.

Based in part on Avery’s aggressive intervention, the court ruled in Hennepin County’s favor. It noted that the county had a sound nondiscrimination policy, and management worked to enforce it.

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