Fairness in Print
A recent ruling by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission might finally signal the beginning of the end of the struggle for a former University of Texas at Arlington print shop employee who lost his job 18 months ago. Rob Streety claims he was fired unjustifiably from his job in May 2007 (“Scary Type,” Aug. 8, 2007) as a result of retaliation against him for reporting on things like wastefulness, a hostile work environment, and racism. The reports were initially sent to the print shop supervisor and subsequently to UTA’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office.
Other print shop employees denied the accusations and called him a malcontent, and he was finally let go. After his firing, someone told Fort Worth Weekly that Streety was driving past the homes of print shop workers, lurking in the UTA parking lot, and threatening people. School officials in turn denied those charges.
But Streety, then 55, hung on. In July 2007, the college’s equal-employment office issued a report acknowledging that one of Streety’s charges – that he and his wife had been subject to racist slurs from his immediate supervisor – had merit and recommending that UTA “take appropriate action” against his supervisor. Streety is white, and both his wife and former immediate supervisor are Hispanic.
UTA took no action, however, so Streety filed a formal complaint against the school with the EEOC’s Dallas district office. Last month, the EEOC completed its investigation and determined that Streety had been discriminated against in retaliation for his earlier complaints. The agency also found that UTA has an “ineffective policy for addressing discrimination complaints,” and that the director of the college’s equal-employment office failed to follow up on the office’s own recommendation that action be taken against Streety’s former supervisor.
The EEOC finding gives UTA the chance to make things right, before the commission decides whether to sue UTA. It notes that the commission will consider “compensatory and punitive damages under the Civil Rights Act of 1991.”
An EEOC spokesperson said no one at the agency would comment on its ruling, and UTA officials didn’t call back. Proving there is equality in No-Comment Land, Streety’s lawyer also didn’t call back to say what’s next if the college doesn’t offer his client a satisfactory settlement.
Streety feels vindicated but said the ordeal has been exhausting. “When you know you’re right and everyone else seems to not care about that, it’s very depressing. But this is a slam dunk that reassures me I was right all along.”