PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A state agency charged with investigating civil rights violations now finds itself accused of violating the civil rights of an employee.
That’s the claim a Penn Hills woman made Monday.
For 15 years, Cheryl Williams worked for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission as an investigator of civil rights complaints against others.
But, increasingly, Williams felt she was the victim of discrimination by her supervisors.
“It was horrific,” she told KDKA’s Jon Delano. “It was probably the worst employment situation in my whole professional career.”
In a 17-page complaint filed in federal court, Williams alleges she was discriminated against because of her disability and age — and subjected to a hostile work environment.
Williams: I was actually physically assaulted by the chief counsel. She hit me and told me I couldn’t leave a room that I was in.”
Delano: “She hit you?”
Williams: “She hit me. She said, you’re not going anywhere. You stay right here. And she hit me.”
Williams says her Fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal injuries required a special desk that was provided until the regional director took it away.
Delano: “What did he do with this desk?”
Williams: “At one time he was using it as a table for his fax machine.”
An office on the third floor of the Piatt Place on Fifth Avenue is where Williams alleges the discrimination took place.
But, no surprise, nobody here would go on camera to talk about it.
The regional director referred KDKA to a spokesperson who said they had no comment on matters in court.
Williams says the hostile environment goes to the very top where she says Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission members used disparaging language to describe gays, women and African Americans.
Williams: “There was a time when I was present and heard for myself this language. I don’t know if it’s something that happened often but I know that it did happen.”
Delano: “Can you identify which commissioners talked like this?”
Williams: “Absolutely. But for now I think it’s best that I not mention their names.”
Williams is asking for more than $400,000 dollars in damages.
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