A city employee of nearly 24 years filed a racial discrimination suit against the city on March 4, claiming higher-ups in the Purchasing & Contracting Department denied her a promotion because she is African American.
The lawsuit aims to expose the alleged longstanding practice of discrimination inside city hall, where minority workers are passed over for promotions or not given offices similar to their white counterparts.
Alice Daniels was first hired in March 1990 as a clerical assistant for the library department. She was eventually transferred to the Purchasing & Contracting Department as an associate management analyst, overseeing the city's procurement-card program. She remained in that position for nearly four years and was told by her former supervisor that she was next in line for a promotion.
The promotion soon began to slip away, says Daniels, when longtime city staffer Ed Plank assumed control of the department. It was then that she began to get a bad feeling about her chances for promotions.
"Plank had no experience in the Purchasing and Contracting Department. Upon Plank's arrival, he ignored and avoided [Daniels]," reads the lawsuit.
Then, in November 2012, Plank, who then served as the department's interim director, formed a panel to conduct interviews for the position allegedly promised to Daniels. Daniels says that despite being the only logical candidate, having managed the program for nearly four years, Plank and his colleagues chose a lesser-qualified applicant.
Two weeks after learning the news, Daniels filed an internal complaint with the city.
"I have been performing the duties of [senior] management analyst for [three] years, which is the time that I took over the Procurement Card Program (P-card). I have been working in the industry for [five and one half] years. I am certified for this unique program and have the education necessary. There is no way someone else had a better skill-set," contended Daniels in her December 2012 internal discrimination complaint form.
"I would like to be put in a position comparable to the one that I was denied and compensated for money lost. I want Purchasing and Contracting to stop the discriminatory practices."
The complaint didn't yield any results and, one year following the initial interview, Daniels went to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to explain the situation.
"It is a very unique position in which I was the only person in the City who had the experience and credentials to run the program. Therefore, it is apparent that I was discriminated against based on my race and age," read Daniels’s November 30 complaint.
It was in her November 30 complaint that Daniels explained the culture of discrimination inside city hall:
"My situation was not the only act of discrimination. For instance, there were two senior procurement specialists [one] Black female and [one] White male. The Black female was denied the opportunity to work out of class [OCA] as a principal procurement specialist when it should have been rotated among the two senior procurement specialists as it states in the Personnel Manual H-3,2.
“Instead, only the White male was singled out to work out of class with additional compensation, and given an office. The Black female had to remain in a cubicle with no opportunity to gain new skills, earn additional compensation and/or fairly compete for that job or other promotional opportunities as they become available.
“It was also observed that Mr. Plank showed no respect or common courtesy to his Executive Assistant who was African American female. On several occasions he would disregard her and go to others for help or information, though she was the person that he should have gone to for questions and assistance as she was his assistant and had the answers."