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San Francisco Board of Supervisors addresses race discrimination

The heads of several San Francisco city agencies vowed to do more to eliminate race discrimination in their departments during a volatile November 11 Board of Supervisors hearing, but many of the African-American workers gathered were unimpressed by what they heard. They and advocacy groups like the Service Employees International Union say that little has changed since San Francisco Mayor London Breed made similar statements when the board's Government Audit and Oversight Committee discussed the very same issues in September.

African-American workers at both hearings gave accounts of being passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified Caucasian candidates and facing workplace retaliation after filing complaints about race discrimination. City officials also heard that African-American workers face disciplinary action far more often and for less serious offenses than their white colleagues. Advocacy groups have called for a reevaluation of the hiring, retention and management practices of all city departments to root out both overt racism and unintentional bias.

Mayor Breed took action after the September hearing by creating two city positions that will investigate these issues on a full-time basis. The procedure for reporting bias incidents has also been streamlined to make identifying problem areas and departments faster and more transparent. The city's Department of Human Resources will meet on a regular basis with union representatives and other interested parties to monitor the progress and effectiveness of these programs.

Employers accused of condoning or encouraging racial or sexual harassment or discrimination are often motivated to seek a quick and discreet settlement. Attorneys with experience in this area could encourage workers who face unfair treatment to gather as much evidence as they can so that their employers have even more reason to avoid a protracted legal battle. This is why keeping records of workplace incidents with a list of the individuals present is important.

Source: KTVU, SF city workers continue call to end racial discrimination, Carlos Rivera, November 27, 2018

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