PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Pittsburgh Public Works supervisor was suspended for sending a racially-charged text message to one of his employees.
The message was sent last month after the employee called in sick.

On May 15, an African-American employee in the Public Works Department sent a text message letting his supervisor know he would be taking a comp day. He ended the text with a “thanks.”

The white supervisor responded with an “ok n-word” and followed it up with “OMN, common for ok my n-word.”

Mayor Bill Peduto tells KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland, “There was an incident and it involved a statement that was made that was inadvertently shared with one of the workers.”

The incident was reported to both managers and the department of municipal investigations.

The employee said at the time he was told, “the word has different meanings.”

“I think it was very shocking, very shocking when I first learned of it. That people would even think that that was ok in any fashion,” Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said.

Based on the Office Of Municipal Investigation’s findings the supervisor was suspended.

“We took the strongest action possible which is a full five day suspension pending termination and gave him a chance to respond back on why he shouldn’t be fired,” Mayor Peduto said.

The suspension happened last week and the supervisor wasn’t fired. Instead he got a chance agreement which means any future disciplinary problems would mean he would be fired.

The city said the decision was made based on his work history and no other complaints.

Both Mayor Peduto, and Councilwoman Kail-Smith want to send a clear message.

“We need to make sure this doesn’t reoccur, and we want people to know this is not acceptable on any terms,” Kail-Smith said.

“There is no place for workers that are intolerant and anyone who would challenge that, we simply say, find another job,” Peduto added.

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland