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S.B. City Employees Allege Unequal Pay

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San Bernardino

Part I
By Mary Shelton

African-Americans who work in the city of San Bernardino's Information Services department received salary increases which averaged less than half of those given to White employees, according to two Black employees.

And the city, including its Equal Employment Opportunity and Human Resources Departments has done nothing to remedy this inequity or other allegations of racial discrimination within Information Services, both men have said.
They pointed the finger of blame at their director Janis Ingels who according to an email obtained by Black Voice News, accused three Black employees of making her department "sound like hell on earth" by "flooding" the City Council and other city officials with letters alleging racial discrimination.
Eric Childs and Karl DeSilva, both African-Americans who have worked in the Information Services Department for over four years apiece, said that although the average pay increase for White employees in that department was 23.6 percent, that awarded to African-Americans averaged only 11.6 percent.
Documents provided supported these statistics.
The city had hired an independent consultant firm, Johnson and Associates, to evaluate salary raises in the Information Services Department, to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest. According to the firm's report, the only criteria used to evaluate salary increases were job titles, and descriptions, which were then used to compare San Bernardino's salary ranges with those of other cities offering similar positions. The job performances of individual employees were not to be included as criteria in the evaluation, the report stated.
However, Ingels provided input into the pay raises, which caused the salaries of several White employees to be raised higher than what the consulting firm had recommended for those positions, while Black employees were not given similar consideration, DeSilva said.
The firm’s report recommended that DeSilva’s salary be increased to equal that of a White employee, Matt Torrance, whose position did not receive a recommendation for a salary raise in the firm's report. However, Ingels asked that Torrance be given a 36 percent pay raise, after having told City Administrator Fred Wilson that she intended to use her input in the process, "to reward her long-time employees."
"Of course all the long-time employees were White," Childs said.
Two other non-Black employees received sizable raises, according to documents, above those recommended for their positions by the firm’s report.
Jason Surez received a 50.5 percent raise increase, and was also promoted to a newly created position, without having to apply for that position and also was allowed to bypass an intermediary position in between.
According to DeSilva's complaint, the city's EEO officer, Wallace Green had called this salary raise, as well as that of Torrance, "suspicious."
Another White employee, Michael Eckley, received a 27.9 percent raise originally recommended in the survey plus an additional "out of phase" 5 percent raise, which Childs and DeSilva said was highly unusual.
However, the consultant asked an African-American supervisor, Marcus Anderson, why he was not being paid more money, even though he was supervising "so many" employees, DeSilva said.
Concerned, DeSilva filed a complaint with Green, alleging that Ingels had negotiated higher pay raises for White employees, but provided little input in regards to raises for Black employees.
Months passed with no disposition released on his complaint which caused DeSilva to take further action.
He said that he had grown concerned that Green was deliberately sitting on the complaint in order to prevent him from being able to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, within the statutory time allowed.
So, last May he filed a complaint with that state agency, without waiting to hear back from Green.
Green's report was finally released on Aug. 6, four months after the deadline to file a complaint with Fair Employment and Housing had expired. He wrote that he could not sustain the allegation that Ingels' input into a survey to evaluate salary increases constituted racial discrimination against Black employees.
When asked about why he took so long to complete his investigation of DeSilva's complaint, Green said that although it was fine for DeSilva to talk about the complaint, he could not.
"I'm not going to talk about any complaint," he said, "I'm bound to not talk about these complaints."
Ed Raya, Director of Human Resources for the city did not return phone calls. Ingels also did not return phone calls at press time.
Childs had experienced difficulties of his own, when he was placed on administrative leave after Ingels alleged that he had deleted files from a computer used by his supervisor, Anderson, who had been placed on administrative leave earlier. Childs said he was asked to retrieve information from Anderson's computer by Ingels, and later accused by Ingels of deleting files to protect his supervisor.
DeSilva said that Childs had been placed on leave without having the right to a Skelly hearing, or having an opportunity to rebut the allegations against him. At one point, Childs was pressured to resign.
"Before he submitted his rebuttal," DeSilva said of Childs, "She (Ingels) had his termination papers ready."
Childs and Anderson were ultimately reinstated into their positions. Childs signed a confidentiality agreement with the city, and fully intends to honor it.
Problems continued when Childs returned to work.
"She (Ingels) made it known," DeSilva said, "She's not happy to have them back."
In her email, Ingels disclosed information about the alleged investigation involving Childs and Anderson, as well as the complaints filed by DeSilva regarding the disparities in salary raises.
"They’ve come up with zip so far and that will be the case, because I’m as far from racially prejudice as you can get, and not be Black yourself," she wrote.
She accused one Black employee, the "ringleader" of soliciting other employees to join him on filing complaints.
"I have a couple of employees that transferred in due to bumping rights that have now filed charges like "hostile working environment" etc. because they have not done well and have had bad evaluations, so it’s their chance to fight back."
And refers to Anderson and Childs, as a threat to her personal safety.
"They both look like football linebackers," she wrote, "and of course are very unhappy people."
The email which has been brought to the attention of city officials including the City Attorney’s office upset DeSilva, because he said it violated a confidentiality agreement signed by Childs and Ingels, by mentioning details of that prior incident. DeSilva said, he was told during a conversation with a city attorney that it basically was "a career ending email."
DeSilva, however, said that he doubts the city is interested in dealing with problems in his department.
"They are trying to sweep it under the rug, hoping it will go away," he said.

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