Ginger Cove accused of racial bias

September 20, 1994|By From Staff Reports Sun staff writers John Rivera and TaNoah V. Sterling contributed to this article.

More than a dozen present and former employees of the Ginger Cove retirement community have charged the company with employment discrimination and are taking their complaint to the NAACP and the state's Human Relations Commission.

The employees accuse Ginger Cove, a nonprofit organization, of filling positions with whites without posting the vacancies, paying black employees less and preventing black workers from interacting with clients and residents of the community.

J. William Crittenden, executive director of Ginger Cove, said the community's administrative board and staff have a written policy requiring fair treatment for all employees. He said Ginger Cove employs one black administrator and several blacks in supervisory positions.

Workers who feel they have been wronged can file grievances, he said, but in the seven months he has worked there no employee has filed a grievance alleging racial discrimination.

But the employees have taken their complaints to the state's Human Relations Commission and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. On Saturday, nine adults and several children demonstrated in front of the community at Riva Road and Riva Trace Parkway.

They carried signs that read "Ginger Cove is the last plantation," "Diversity is the key to success" and "Stop the racism."

Jean Creek, executive director of the Anne Arundel chapter of the NAACP, said some of the employees tried to take their complaints to management, but without success.

"My understanding is that when the employees brought these issues to their attention, their action was to basically harass them more and to force them to resign," she said.

She said the Human Relations Commission will be gathering information on the case and that the NAACP may join the employees in a lawsuit. But, she added, "we're hoping this gets settled at the local level."

Mary Brown, one of the employees who is alleging discrimination, worked six years at Ginger Cove and said she was passed over for a chef position because she was told she lacked culinary training. Ms. Brown said the white woman who was hired told her she did not have culinary training, either.

Evelyn Carr, who worked as a Ginger Cove housekeeper, said she was fired 18 months ago for failing to come to work one day when the weather was bad.

When she went to work, she was suspended for three days. Returning from the suspension, the only black administrator fired her. But, she said, the same administrator had also called in because of bad weather.

Harriet Freeman, who worked in food services from 1988 to February 1993, said the way the company treats its black employees is "just trashy. I can't dress it up -- it's trashy."

She said her supervisor -- who has since left -- seemed to have a personal vendetta against her.

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