April 2, 2024
DEI Officer Lauren Footman filed a complaint with the EEOC last year, accusing boss, Marc Woolley, of treating Black women employees unfairly.
Upon her return from medical leave, Delaware County’s pioneering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) officer, Lauren Footman, was terminated after leveling allegations of racial discrimination against her superior, Chief Administrative Officer Marc Woolley.
Delaware County offered Footman a 12-week severance package contingent upon withdrawing her EEOC complaint, an offer she declined, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The situation unfolded when Footman filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) last November. The 32-year-old accused Woolley, 55, of unfair treatment toward her and other Black women employees and retaliation for previously raising internal complaints.
A September 2023 report from an internal investigation conducted by lawyers from the firm Rudolph Clarke stated that although “Mr. Woolley’s status as an African-American man does not, of course, shield him from a claim of discrimination against African-American women,” the firm concluded that the Black deputy executive “does not discriminate against African-American women during the performance of his job duties.”
“We do not tolerate or support hate and are actively working to ensure our DEI office and our next DEI official will have the impact that is needed here in Delaware County,” said county spokesperson Adrienne Marofsky, who affirmed Footman’s termination was unrelated to the EEOC complaint.
Footman’s decision to file the EEOC complaint coincided with her medical leave due to anxiety and depression, which she attributed to the alleged adverse working conditions. The DEI officer, who was hired in April 2022, alleged in her EEOC complaint that Woolley favored white workers over Black employees, particularly Black women. She cited instances where Woolley allegedly arranged a County Council meeting to assist “an attractive white woman” official facing a similar issue as Footman.
Furthermore, she claimed Woolley endorsed progressive discipline for a white employee but not for a Black female employee. She also alleged that her proposal for gender-neutral bathrooms was met by a statement from Woolley, who said trans people would be directed to the bathroom he tells them.
Woolley denied Footman’s claims.
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