Bias, hatred, inequity, injustice: All words derived from a term that is representative of a socioeconomic norm in today’s society–discrimination.
Seven years ago, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) spent $3.3 million settling employee accusations that the organization allowed racial discrimination and interfered in government efforts to investigate complaints. The emotionally damaged workers Augustine Serna, a Latino; and Kenneth Carter, a Caucasian– jointly filed a lawsuit against DWP alleging that the agency, through once fired and now re-hired Assistant General Manager Raman Raj and others, were “treating them like dogs in the workplace” because they both had African-American wives.
The allegations by both employees prompted the DWP to hire an outside law firm, which concluded that Raj had discouraged employee complaints of mistreatment. The firm recommended that he resign for the good of the agency, and Raj was forced out three months later.
But, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seemingly ignored the past allegations of discrimination, and rehired Raj, 58, last December as the utility’s second in command, running the department in the absence of General Manager H. David Nahai.
In a recent televised DWP commission meeting, Nick Pastsaouras, President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners leaked a comment oozing with discriminatory juices.
“The nominee of the Democratic Party is African-American. A woman came close to getting a nomination, but your gonna spend over a hundred-thousand dollars on teaching employees to deal with diversity, that’s an anachronism. We’re past the sins of the past.”
In a recent interview, DWP Commissioner Forescee Hogan-Rowles voiced that was shocked at Pastsaouras’s wayward statement, claiming that she would now have to re-evaluate the organization’s progression from a civil rights stand point.
“We have to define diversity as we mean it and we have to go back and figure out what the department really means, because I thought I knew until that comment was made. It threw me because I was thinking that we were making headway. I didn’t think it meant we needed to abandon anything,” Hogan-Rowles said.