Water Board disputes EEOC ruling

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Gary Thompson, the attorney representing the Selma Water Works and Sewer Board, has a problem with the recent ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

So does the board. In a meeting last week board members voted 4-1 to dispute the ruling and hired Frank McWright, a Huntsville attorney who specializes in labor relations and employment law, to challenge the EEOC’s decision.

Board members Marvin Melton, Billy Hicks, and Councilmen B.L. Tucker and Glenn Sexton voted in favor of the hire. Councilman Sam Randolph was the lone voice against.

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Last week the EEOC released a determination stating the board had been found in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Cynthia G. Pierre, district director of the EEOC, said in her statement that the board had discriminated against blacks when it came to promotions, in addition to assigning job duties and titles to benefit whites.

The board disagrees.

Thompson said that during the EEOC’s investigation he furnished materials the EEOC had requested. EEOC investigators, Thompson added, met with the seven Water and Sewer Board employees who filed the complaints, but didn’t send anyone to speak with the board, its personnel consultant, Randall Miller, or himself.

The EEOC has no enforcement powers, Thompson said.

The body investigates complaints and tries to resolve the issues. If a resolution isn’t successful complainants are given a &uot;right to sue&uot; letter.

Pierre stated in her determination that if a settlement wasn’t obtained she would &uot;inform the parties and advise them of the court enforcement alternatives available to aggrieved persons and the Commission.&uot;

Randall Miller explained the chain of command for complaints starts with the Water and Sewer Board. If needed, complainants can go to a higher authority.

A Water and Sewer Board challenge would end up in the U.S. District Court in Mobile.