NBA Commissioner’s Zero-Tolerance Leadership: A Management Model for the Federal Workforce

The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C), a support network and civil rights advocacy group, which formed to combat employment discrimination in the Federal workplace, says National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Commissioner, Adam Silver’s leadership-style serves as an excellent model for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other federal agencies professing to weed out rampant discrimination in the federal government.

“NBA Commissioner Adam Silver displayed great leadership in the aftermath of vile racial remarks attributed to Donald Sterling (La Clipper’s owner),” says Tanya Ward Jordan, founder of the C4C. “C4C members include present and former federal employees injured due to workplace race discrimination and retaliation. We certainly commend the NBA Commissioner’s prompt handling of the bigoted spawned crisis. In the wake of the recent upset Commissioner Silver moved swiftly to investigate, strategically to ensure due process and decidedly imposing penalties strong enough to deter some future hateful remarks and behavior. I personally cheer this hard stand in support of the Los Angeles NBA team. Yet, I continue to mourn the absence of support shown to African Americans in the federal service facing bigotry and racism. Many facing racism in the federal ranks serve in critical occupations as firefighters, U.S. Marshals and air traffic controllers. Therefore, discrimination in the federal sector remains a threat to every American citizen.”

“The federal government touches virtually every aspect within our communities; yet, the nation’s largest employer permits managers with proven racial animus to set public policy and to escape penalties when breaking civil rights laws,” says Ms. Paulette Taylor, C4C’s Civil rights Chair. Ms. Taylor serves as a class agent in a race-based class action against the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). In 2011, the EEOC found SSA guilty of discriminating against Black female employees [Taylor, et al. v. Astrue, Commissioner, SSA, EEOC Nos. 120-2003-0304X, 120-2003-0305X]

“Failure to effectively address bias behavior continues to harm our veterans,” says Marine Corps veteran Oliver Mitchell. Mitchell is an African American whistleblower, a C4C member and a former Patient Scheduling Clerk at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Greater Los Angeles Medical Center. “According to a recent CNN report at least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, states Mitchell, “Had officials looked beyond my race and investigated the allegations I first reported in 2008 about VA’s purging medical request records to deal with the backlog of veterans waiting for care, perhaps some lives could have been saved.”

According to Janel Smith, C4C’s Vice President, “too many civil servants suffer damaging health effects and face unbearable career obstacles as they languish for years in a hostile workplace under rogue supervisors, holding bigoted views like LA Clipper’s owner Sterling. The federal system often rewards unlawful behavior. Notably, within weeks after the EEOC found Craig Littlejohn, a top official at the U.S. Department of the Interior guilty of race discrimination and referring to African American subordinates as “monkeys,” Interior officials gave the civil rights violator a salary pay increase.” [EEOC No. 570-2008-00625X, Pierre v Salazar]

“The EEOC’s position that it can only “order agencies to consider discipline is simply unacceptable,” says Isaac Decatur, an African American veteran who proved employment discrimination against the VA. (Decatur v Secretary, Veterans Affairs: 0120073404). The C4C member was one several Black veterans put on a “blacklist” and targeted for removal after filing a complaint against VA officials. (Saunders v Secretary, Veterans Affairs: Case Number 200L-0629-2004-100828).

“Federal officials should take a lesson from Commissioner Silver’s play book on how to administer prompt penalties against supervisory managers displaying foul discriminatory animus towards employees,” said C4C member Terri Williams, “It is just not enough to talk zero tolerance. EEOC and all federal agencies should enforce zero-tolerance doctrines because bigoted beliefs held by federal supervisors filter into policy decisions affecting the public.”

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply