Durham HR Commission looking into bias at water management

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The City of Durham is looking over reports of possible racism and gender bias within the city’s water management department.

The investigation started last summer when the Durham City Workers Union raised concerns of unequal treatment when it comes to hiring, discipline, promotions, and pay.

The city said the Union accused it of racism and gender bias as playing a role in the unequal treatment, but especially racism.

According to the Human Resources department with the City of Durham, The Water Management Department in Durham is made up of 285 employees.

Based on the employee demographics given by Durham, 144 employees are black and 126 are Caucasian.

Of the numbers of employees disciplined from 2011 and 2014, 73 were black and 32 were white.

These statistics were presented to Durham’s City Council back in November and December 2014.

Currently, the human relations commission is investigating claims of potential racism at the water management department.

In their report, the human resources team concluded that the “severity of disciplines issued to minority employees for similar infractions appears to be harsher in some cases.”

WNCN spoke to the HR Director Regina Youngblood off camera and she said there were obvious inconsistencies especially when it came to disciplining, but mentioned that in many areas she said she did not see much bias.

The human relations department will be finalizing their recommendations to the city council about how to fix the inconsistencies in how the water management department fires, hires, promotes, and especially disciplines.

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