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City not facilitating EEOC complaints worries residents

Residents: Reconsider decision to send work discrimination issues to the web
Posted at 9:35 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 03:00:41-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Concerned residents shared their concerns about a recent change in the city's Human Relations Department on Thursday evening.

KRIS 6 News reported in September that Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni reduced the department's staffing. Because of that, the city no longer facilitates Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints, or performs investigations on that department's behalf.

Before September, if you had a complaint about workplace discrimination, you filed a complaint in person with staff that specialized in EEOC-related issues. But since the office was restructured, residents wanting to file employment discrimination complaints with EEOC must do so online, directly with the state and federal services.

Residents like Tina Butler think that's unfair, and voiced her concerns in front of the city's Human Relations Committee.

Butler said there's a backlog in service with those offices, but she also said that it is difficult to share her worries in the limited space an online form provides.

"Online, (it) asks you to be specific -- in detail, and how can you do that with limited spacing?" she said. "I believe it (allows) 4,000 characters."

On Thursday, the committee also learned that the city's Human Relations Department continues to receive EEOC-related complaints -- 46 complaints and inquiries from residents, to be exact.

"Knowing that people are still reaching out to the City of Corpus Christi for assistance, and not getting the support that they should be getting, is just mind-blowing," said committee member Angel Cruz.

In September, Zanoni explained to KRIS 6 News that EEOC complaints are a service the state and federal governments provide. He didn't feel it needed to be duplicated on a local level.

Now, Butler and others are just hoping the service can be brought back to City Hall.

"I probably was not the only one who was in that predicament," said Butler. "And what do you do?"

Cruz agreed.

"Having that resource here, we can be the first line of defense for the people here in Corpus Christi," he said.

Moving forward, the committee said it wants to make city leaders aware of the 46 existing inquiries since the office stopped processing EEOC complaints. Its hope is that city leaders will realize the importance of the service.