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Blacks Employed by City File Bias Complaint:  ‘San Francisco Should be Ashamed,’ They Say

San Francisco’s city employee workforce is 36,000 and Black people make up 12% of that, approximately 4,320 Black city employees. 

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Jessica Brown, Black Employees Alliance photo courtesy LinkedIn

On March 15, 2021, the Black Employees Alliance and the Coalition Against Anti-Blackness filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) based on public records data from 2012 to 2020 and alleged disparities in discipline, pay and raises.

The groups also alerted the City of San Francisco’s Ethics Commission.

San Francisco’s city employee workforce is 36,000 and Black people make up 12% of that, approximately 4,320 Black city employees.

The Black Employees Alliance has 410 members.

Based on the data, the complaint also alleged that there were pay and bonus disparities between white and Asian managers and Black managers data showed that Black city employees were the subject of 21% of the discipline and corrective actions.

Based on the allegations, the groups also wrote a letter to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and other city department heads stating that “San Francisco should be ashamed.”

Jessica Brown, a Black Employees Alliance leader told the San Francisco Chronicle:  “[i]t’s an injustice.  We really want the city to move into action.”

The city has acknowledged the racial gaps in discipline and pay,  but says those are in the past and are being addressed.  A March of 2020 report published by the San Francisco Chronicle said “that Black employees held lower-paying jobs, were less likely to be promoted, and were more frequently disciplined and fired.”

The city denies the disparities in raises that the Black Employees Alliance alleges in their complaint.

Next steps are a meeting in May with the Alliance and the state to determine whether DFEH will accept the complaint for investigation.

“We have a lot of work to do, but it is very valid that Black employees are paid less in certain roles, and not promoted proportionally and that they are the subject of disproportionate disciplinary action by city departments.  This has to change. . . . “  Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton said in a statement in response to the complaint.

The San Francisco Chronicle, thegrio.com, and missionlocal.org were sources for this report. 

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