One Winthrop weighs on in discrimination suit
One Winthrop was created in the spirit of bringing our community together and seeks to counteract incidents of discrimination in all of its ugly forms. We have heard from persons in authority in our Town that Winthrop “does not have a discrimination problem,” but that they are glad that One Winthrop exists.
One Winthrop cannot remain silent in this time of moral conflict. Recently we learned Winthrop DOES indeed have a discrimination problem, a big one, in the form of a $2 million settlement awarded to Judy Racow for gender discrimination.
This is the third time in the past 20 years that two separate female members of the police force successfully sued the town for gender discrimination. These lengthy court settlement documents show a pattern of gender discrimination that has existed for decades and is built into the culture of not only the police department, but also the Town.
It is quite difficult to prove discrimination in court based solely on sex; however, the Judge remarked in the Racow case that the monetary award was high because the discrimination was blatant, and represented a pattern of repeated discriminatory practices over time. The harsh judgment was meant to be a wake up call for the Town that should be heeded. Policy and procedure must change now. This is Winthrop’s “Me Too”/”Time’s UP!” moment.
No longer will it be our Town’s cultural norm to treat women differently because of their sex or gender. No longer will it be acceptable for men in positions of power to instill fear and intimidate for speaking out about unfair practices. Winthrop should immediately adopt a meaningful and actionable framework to review cases of reported discrimination, and a zero tolerance policy for any kind of discrimination or harassment. This policy would institute mandatory trainings for all Town employees on a regular basis, create procedures and systems to ensure zero tolerance for discrimination and harassment, and create clear consequences for violation of the zero tolerance policy.
We urge and invite others who have experienced discrimination to come forward, let your voice be heard. Change may only happen when we come together with shared experiences to demonstrate such need for change.
One Winthrop believes that there should not be anyone in leadership positions in our government who have engaged in, practiced or been complicit in discriminatory practices. We would call on those named in the Racow lawsuit to relinquish their positions of authority to allow for new leadership to emerge who is unaffiliated with the settlement. It will be good for the Town, it’s development and reputation to move towards the embracement of equity and inclusion of all persons in its institutions. Given that the search for town manager is once again open, we would reiterate our request to, at a minimum, identify, interview and consider candidates of color and women, candidates who can bring change and a different perspective to the Town and ensure that we increase transparency, inclusion, and eradicate the culture of discrimination.
One Winthrop / [email protected]
Rev. Terri Bracy
Barbara T. Flockhart
Leah Hart Tennen