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DOT Takes Steps To Address Concerns Of Racial Discrimination

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Some employees with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) claim racism is rampant in both the personnel office and the maintenance shops. The DOT is taking steps to try to meet the problem head-on.

Some workers claim no action has been taken over a noose found hanging in a DOT maintenance shop during Black History Month in February. Others claim black DOT workers are routinely passed up for promotions.

North Carolina State Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett said he has heard the concerns and wants to do something about it.

"We have employees who have made allegations of workplace harassment. I took those seriously. I think if there's a perception, I should address it," Tippett said.

In an effort to address the problem, the DOT's diversity council held its first meeting Thursday.

The group, which is made up of 10 DOT employees with different perspectives on race relations, is conducting a cultural audit.

"I'm a refugee. I came here as a [boat person,]" said Kimmy Le, who is a member of the diversity council. "I feel discrimination over my language because it's not my native language."

"I think they've been able to look at the merits that I bring to the job and be able to promote me accordingly," said Ric Cruz, who is a member of the diversity council.

The DOT also has a new minority affairs director.

"It's not fair to characterize everything as racist. There might be just a communication problem," Minority Affairs Director Gina Dean said.

The diversity council plans to have its cultural audit finished by January.


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