Local News

Lee DSS workers want boss to apologize for offensive e-mail

Posted March 3, 2011 6:03 p.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2011 11:03 p.m. EST

— Some Lee County Department of Social Services employees on Thursday criticized their boss for sending an e-mail to them this week that they consider racist.

The e-mail, which was sent to everyone in the department, included an image of a person hanging from a tree.

"It took me awhile to get myself together," DSS worker Tamekia Dowdy said. "I was shocked. I was insulted. I felt very numb. My thoughts began to race back to those times when people were hanging by trees."

DSS Director Brenda Potts declined to comment, referring questions to County Attorney Dale Talbert. Neither Talbert nor County Manager John Crumpton returned phone calls Thursday.

Dowdy said she understands that the e-mail was meant as a joke about DSS auditors. The subject line refers to someone leaving a computer on while making copies.

"When we leave our desks, we're supposed to make sure our computers are locked because we have confidential information on our screens," she said.

Still, she said, she didn't find the image humorous and wants Potts to apologize for sending it.

"For her to even think that was not insulting, that was not disgraceful, she should apologize," she said.

Crumpton sent her an e-mail in which he said he didn't find the image racist.

"Of course, I am not in the shoes of those that would be offended by this type of picture," Crumpton wrote in the e-mail. "Perceptions are reality in the public world, so we all should be more concerned about the impact of what we say and do."

Dowdy said the words "social services" in the department's name should mean something to Potts.

"(We should be) a department that loves people, that cares for people, but for you to send out images like this, it proves you don't even care about your own employees," she said.