When an emergency arises, North Carolina residents expect that rescue workers will arrive to help regardless of the race or gender of the victim. Unfortunately, that does not appear to extend to the responders’ co-workers, according to some complaints. While racial tensions run high across the country, a local fire department is dealing with its own claims of discrimination.
At least 14 former and current members of the Winston-Salem Fire Department have joined their voices to draw attention to what they claim is a pattern of harassment and discrimination within the department. The men and women held a press conference to report examples of abuse that include white firefighters making nooses, spitting into their boots and making racist comments on social media. One Black man, who rose to the rank of captain, reportedly said that people of color are treated as afterthoughts in the department. Some Black women spoke out regarding sexual harassment on the job.
The group of protestors is seeking diversity training for their department. They believe better recruitment and training for minority firefighters may improve the situation. They also want an investigation into the discrimination and harassment they have experienced.
Discrimination can make a work environment uncomfortable, but it can also create hostility that can be dangerous and unhealthy. North Carolina employees who experience racial discrimination, harassment or other unlawful behaviors have a right to seek justice through the civil courts. No only might a successful claim provide recompense for the victims, but it may also correct a situation that is long overdue.